Very often when I meditate with the Scriptures, I like to use a method that allows me to imagine that I am physically present at the scene presented in the Scripture passage.
As we come to this most wonderful feast of Easter, I generally take a few of the Gospel stories dealing with the resurrection itself and some of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus.
I wonder what I would have done had I been present with the women at the empty tomb: what conclusion would I have come to as to the missing body and the message of the angels: “He is not here; He is risen?”
When peering into the empty tomb would I have been confused as Peter seemed to be or would I have been convinced as the Gospel claims of John: “He saw and he believed?”
When Jesus appeared to the apostles with Thomas absent and they recounted the event to him, would I have believed their testimony or would I have had to have proof as Thomas did: “unless I place my hands in His side and probe the nail prints in His hands, I will never believe.”
Some of us need to see some sign of the power of God present in our lives and we need time to come to understanding.
Recently, our Sunday Gospel passage spoke of Jesus going to Bethany and raising Lazarus from the dead. Just before Jesus entered the village, He and Martha — the sister of the dead man — entered into conversation and Jesus asked her if she believed. She responded that she had come to believe that He was the Messiah, the Son of God, indicating that it had taken some time and reflection to reach that point. Jesus then goes on to call Lazarus to come out of the tomb, which caused many in the town to believe.
I, like Martha, need some time for prayer and reflection to come to deeper appreciation of the various ways in which God continues to raise so many from “death to life,” from “darkness to light,” from “despair to hope.”
However, time and time again the signs of light, hope and life are all around us. God continues to work miracles: many without hope are rescued; those who live in darkness are afforded the opportunity to come to the light of a new day; the addicted, the rejected, the abused, can be called from the death of their situations into new life with the Lord.
Where in our own individual circumstances do we need to see signs of new life? Where do we need to be “resurrected” from the various deadly experiences of our lives?
Martha exclaims, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died, but even now I know that God will give You whatever You ask of Him.”
Jesus is here with us. He IS the Resurrection and the Life and we can all participate in that new life if only we can say with Martha: “I have come to believe.”
May the glory and peace of this beautiful season be with you all. May you experience the new life that Jesus alone can offer.
A Blessed Easter!
+Robert E. Guglielmone, Bishop of Charleston