Easter Vigil April 23, 2011
This is the night of hope! This is a night when the story of salvation history is told. This is the night our savior spent in a tomb waiting for resurrection day! This is a story of hope bound up in a story of human brutality that took place over 200 years ago. Yet it is this hope that transcends time and is fully alive in 2011!
The salvation history stories of the Old and New Testament rekindled a history story that shook my life as a young man yet still a boy. Does anyone remember November 22, 1963 and what took place on that date? Has anyone watched the video replay of the events that took place at the Dallas hospital when President John F Kennedy was assassinated? I will never forget. I was still just a boy! I was glued to the TV for the next several days as I watched the events of that day being retold as history continued to unfold before my eyes.
There is one very brief moment I wonder if anyone noticed. It was a moment I missed but my mother did not. While President Kennedy was laying on the gurney in the emergency room, partially undressed in the Dallas hospital, he was surrounded by security, police, nurses and doctors all seemingly frantically doing what they could to save his life. It was a scene of near panic, chaos and emotional turmoil as people were desperately working to save his life while trying to digest the deadly seriousness of the circumstances that surrounded them.
There at JFK’s feet stood Jackie Kennedy. She appeared disheveled yet seemed the most composed person in the room. With great calm she bent over and kissed her husband’s feet. In all the chaos, panic, turmoil and darkness that surrounded that moment, Jackie kissed JFK’s bare feet.
My mother didn’t miss the tenderness and love communicated displayed in that moment of utter emotional panic and darkness. It was a gesture of unconditional love! It was a gesture of being blessed no matter the outcome! It was a gesture I am with you no matter the nightmare that surrounds. It was a kiss of hope that can only spring from the deep recesses of ones spirit.
This is the night from which that hope springs forth like the son’s rising in the morning. There is Hope for us no matter the darkness of any moment of darkness we encounter. This Hope sustains our spirit to resist the temptation to lay down and feel sorry for ourselves. This hope opens the doorway to our hearts to embrace the possibilities of the promises released by the resurrected spirit of Jesus.
Do not be afraid or lament our circumstances. It is not a mistake that we are here at St. Peter the Rock this day. It is not a mistake that we are encountering the difficulties of our day in 2011 on the journey home. We were each born for his day! The joy and success we encounter on our journey lies in our ability to let the son shine in. It lies in the real spiritual possibility we can be born again! Our hope lies in the power of resurrected Lord, in the birthing of a new day and in our willingness to open our hearts to following the pathway to the truth our Lord promised would set us free.
Listen to the words of Matthew again. Behold Jesus unexpectedly interrupted their fearful yet overjoyed running. He met them in the midst of the unknown and uncertainty of the moment. They were not just running, they were running on the wings of hope. They were running to announce to their brothers and sisters the news of Hope that came alive in their spirits and was shouting from their hearts!
And what did they do when they encountered Jesus? Their fear must have left them. They not only approached him; they knelt down and even embraced his feet and did him homage. Can you imagine that? Imagine what his feet must have looked like? The nail marks, the bruises, the cuts, the blood stains and the dirt. Most of us could not have imagined embracing some ones feet and we would automatically withdraw! Yet something more powerful was at work. It was hope, it was joy, and the realization that the impossible was possible; was exploding in their minds. It was an encounter with pure compassion, mercy and love!
On Holy Thursday, we gave thanks and remembered the night Jesus washed his disciples feet, stinky, dirty feet. This same Jesus who came in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of “the suffering servant” modeled again for his disciples and for you and me proper humility for successful leadership.
It is this same Jesus whose crucifixion embraced and kissed our dirty stinky feet and in the process washed us clean.
Then what did he say to them? Do not be afraid! Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there I will see them.
First an angel and again Jesus told the women “do not be afraid! Both gave them a command – what was it? Quickly Go and tell his disciples and his brothers hope live – He has been raised from the dead!
And what will be the consequences of doing what they had been told?
Go and tell and then go again and you will see the Lord.
That my friends, my brothers and sisters what was the first command given to the women of the Church at the dawning of this new day!
“Do not be afraid”. “Do not be afraid”. “Do not fear”.
Go – Go tell the world to Hope, for He has risen!