(Originally posted April 2018)
The tomb was empty. He was gone. Mary cried out in anguish, “What have they done with him?” The response was not comforting to her:
Some mysterious guy with no name: “He’s not here”.
Mary with no filters: “Wait…What? That’s not how this is supposed to go!”
It wasn’t what the other disciples wanted to hear either. So when she told them, they didn’t believe her. Why would they? She was just a woman and probably hormonal at that! Anyway, they thought the script was already written. It was a done deal, and they were now scrambling to adjust their lives accordingly.
As Christians, we should be able to relate to them, except for one HUGE difference. We relive that scenario year after year. We are supposed to know how the story plays out. There should be no surprises. But by the way we act many of us seem to have amnesia.
Bumping into Jesus
How often are we oblivious to Jesus while walking our own Emmaus trail? Whining and complaining about how unfair life is, acting like we don’t even feel him breathing down our necks.
After the Resurrection, Jesus revealed himself in the most unlikely places: Behind locked doors, within those tough relationships, at a fish fry on the beach, in the faces of the broken and downtrodden. He’s there.
In many ways, the poor and homeless among us feel they are also staring into an empty tomb. “Wait, if you’re not dead – where were you, Jesus, when I lost my job and my home? Where were you when my child died and my husband left because my pain was too much to bear? Where are you now as I struggle to feed my family?”
Often, in working with the homeless, when the need seems almost overwhelming, I experience a God moment that reminds me heis, and always has been, in our midst, changing lives and bringing hope to the hopeless.
I will share one beautiful story with you. Since last September, I have worked with a woman who, through no fault of her own, lost her job, then her home. When I met her, she was living in her car and felt hopeless. She would search for available jobs on her phone but had no place to take a shower and “look presentable” to go on an interview. We were able to provide her with a motel room and food. She soon got another job as an Assistant Manager of a shoe store, moved into an apartment, and now has the stability we strive for in this work.
But wait, there’s more! Experiencing the blessings of God, she now gives back. Last week, I witnessed that once-homeless woman give another homeless woman brand-new shoes and coats for her kids. Is that not the epitome of being Christ to others just as we are called to be?
Can we try this again?
So, here we are again in the midst of an Easter season meant to draw us into a deeper relationship with God and, in turn, with our brothers and sisters. Not just the ones that are low-maintenance and easy to love.
It is a time we are called to prayer and sacrifice to help us remember and then act on (we always forget that part) God’s scandalous, extravagant, outrageous love by sharing it with others.
On Easter Sunday, we sing and celebrate our faith’s most important Feast Day. “Alleluia! The Lord is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!” What should that mean to us? After the glorious Resurrection of our Lord – what then? Yes, we get to eat chocolate again, but beyond that…
This is where our transformation should begin
Sister Joan Chittister tells us, “The real proof of the Resurrection lies not in the transformation of Jesus alone but in the transformation awaiting us who accept it.”
Transformation can be powerful if we are willing to seek God in new places outside the comfort of our assigned pew on Sunday.
Transformation happens when Jesus takes up residence within our often stubborn hearts and calls us to love and serve those he most loves: The outcast, the poor, and those the world rejects.
God is good ALL THE TIME! And he’s hiding in plain sight. Go see for yourself.