Faith is the key
Where has our search within the octave of Easter led us? Let us share the insights we have gained in this intense and intimate period of prayer - as it were, ‘our bonding with the Risen Lord?’ The prayers for each other is part of this sharing.
The second Sunday of Easter invites us to listen to the experiences of the early Church – our first brothers and sisters who met the risen Lord and developed a special, new life with Him.
We have learnt together with them that Easter is a special zone. Those who entered it understand how history has been changed once and for all. ‘What became clear and grew to be a certainty for the Church was that God himself had intervened with his almighty hand in the wicked and rebellious life of the world…and had set Jesus up as Lord of the world.’ (Günter Bornkmann, Jesus of Nazareth, further quotes from him.) The point is that Easter is all about God’s work. ‘Easter is above all else God’s acknowledgement of this Jesus, whom the world refused to acknowledge, and to whom even the disciples were unfaithful. It is at the same time the intervention of God’s new world in this old world branded with sin and death, and setting up and beginning of his reign. It is an event in this time and in this world, and yet at the same time an event which puts an end and a limit to this time and this world. To be sure only faith can experience this.’ Are we ready to be witnesses of this ‘zone of life’? Are we ready to keep our eyes open, to keep our eyes of faith opened by Easter open - at any price?
Our first Christian brothers and sisters share with us an another important experience. ‘The men and women who encountered the risen Christ at Easter have come to an end of their wisdom. They regarded themselves as those who have been conquered, whose former lives and beliefs have come to naught.’ And this is the key: they were conquered - they were conquered by faith. The learning curve the disciples had undergone is of vital importance for us.
Initially, they were in a dream-like, semi-conscious state, still in grip of their previous self. ‘What they experienced is fear and doubt, and what only gradually awakens joy and jubilation in their hearts is just this: They, the disciples, on [this] Easter day, are the ones marked out by death, but the crucified and buried one is alive. Those wo have survived him are the dead [the captives of their old life and thinking], and the dead one is the living!’
The big question is, how can one enter ‘into the zone’ of Resurrected life, the communion with the Risen Lord? And here, our first brothers and sisters share us with their most vital teaching. It was not enough, and for us today, it is not enough ‘to hear of the Resurrection.’ Nay, it is not enough to see meet the Risen Lord physically, as did the women at the tomb, the disciples on the road to Emmaus, or apostle Thomas today. And this seems to be the top secret of Easter and that of Christian life. ‘It [is] the resurrected Christ who first reveals the mystery of his story and his person, and above all the meaning of his suffering and death.’ As if rewinding the timeline on a security camera footage, the crucial moment in the Easter story is when Jesus imparts faith, living faith to his disciples.
This is the crux of the matter. ‘Faith in Jesus’, faith itself, has nothing to do in believing in something ‘invisible’, which is not here, which is imaginary. Faith is a vital organ, a new organ in us. ‘Faith’ is more real than anything else. Faith has more weight than anything else. It is through this medium, through this ‘oxygen of new life’, through which we have to break away from the chronology, agendas, and life of ‘this world’. For entrapped ‘in this world’, this world does not allow that freedom, that imagination and that free intimacy with God which only Easter imparts to us.
Faith is, actually, our shared language with God. It is primarily his language, which is like that of a caring parent, is always embracing us, guiding us, and protecting us. Faith is the ‘real’. And it calls us, to imitate God’s mouth and words. It calls us, as the beloved disciple taught us in the Apocalypse, our second reading to tell God who were are, who we have become, and who we can become through our Easter faith.
Lazarus, after returning from death to life, was given a time. A time for reflection. He could process what had happened to him, and how precious his ‘second chance’ was. His life was interrupted in the most dramatic way. He died, and, through the personal gift and miracle by Jesus now he had to answer the why of his regained life.
He is one of the table company of Jesus, who himself is giving his final teaching. ‘Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table.’ (John 12:2) The ‘why-s’ of his personal quest for the meaning of his return, thus, is inseparable from his listening to Jesus. Whatever answer he gives he forever remains in the presence of his Divine friend. I just wonder how our individual (and collective!) lives would be formed if we answered our questions connected to the Lord.
Just as we are interrupted now by the threat of the corona-virus; death itself. Can we see this as a ‘positive interruption’? As marking out a special time for us to reflect on who we are; and who we are in relation to Jesus. For, in a sense, since the interruption of the corona virus, every moment of our life is like that of Lazarus now, who ‘is sitting with him at the table’.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..