Posted April 9, 2015
Where to Find Resurrection
Something there is that needs a
crucifixion. Everything that's good eventually gets scapegoated and crucified.
How? By that curious, perverse dictate somehow innate within human life that
assures that there's always someone or something that cannot leave well enough
alone, but, for reasons of its own, must hunt down and lash out at what's good.
What's good, what's of God, will always at some point be misunderstood, envied,
hated, pursued, falsely accused, and eventually nailed to some cross. Every body
of Christ inevitably suffers the same fate as Jesus: death through
misunderstanding, ignorance, and jealousy.
But there's a flipside as well:
Resurrection always eventually trumps crucifixion. What's good eventually
triumphs. Thus, while nothing that's of God will avoid crucifixion, no body of
Christ stays in the tomb for long. God always rolls back the stone and, soon
enough, new life bursts forth and we see why that original life had to be
crucified. ("Wasn't it necessary that the Christ should so have to suffer and
die?") Resurrection invariably follows crucifixion. Every crucified body will
rise again. Our hope takes its root in that.
But how does this happen? Where
do we see the resurrection? How do we experience resurrection after a
Scripture is subtle, though clear, on this. Where can we expect
to experience resurrection? The gospel tell us that, on the morning of the
resurrection, the women-followers of Jesus set out for the tomb of Jesus,
carrying spices, expecting to anoint and embalm a dead body. Well-intentioned
but misguided, what they find is not a dead body, but an empty tomb and an angel
challenging them with these words: "Why are you looking for the living among the
dead? Go instead into Galilee and you will find him there!"
Go instead into
Galilee. Why Galilee? What's Galilee? And how do we get there?
gospels, Galilee is not simply a geographical location, a place on a map. It is
first of all a place in the heart. As well, Galilee refers to the dream and to
the road of discipleship that the disciples once walked with Jesus and to that
place and time when their hearts most burned with hope and enthusiasm. And now,
after the crucifixion, just when they feel that the dream is dead, that their
faith is only fantasy, they are told to go back to the place where it all began:
"Go back to Galilee. He will meet you there!"
And they do go back to Galilee,
both to the geographical location and to that special place in their hearts
where once burned the dream of discipleship. And just as promised, Jesus appears
to them. He doesn't appear exactly as he was before, or as frequently as they
would like him to, but he does appear as more than a ghost and a memory. The
Christ that appears to them after the resurrection is in a different modality,
but he's physical enough to eat fish in their presence, real enough to be
touched as a human being, and powerful enough to change their lives forever.
Ultimately that's what the resurrection asks us to do: To go back to Galilee, to
return to the dream, hope, and discipleship that had once inflamed us but has
now been lost through disillusionment.
This parallels what happens on the
road to Emmaus in Luke's gospel, where we are told that on the day of the
resurrection, two disciples were walking away from Jerusalem towards Emmaus,
with their faces downcast. An entire spirituality could be unpackaged from that
simple line: For Luke, Jerusalem means the dream, the hope, and the religious
centre from which all is to begin and where ultimately, all is to culminate. And
the disciples are "walking away" from this place, away from their dream, towards
Emmaus (Emmaus was a Roman Spa), a place of human comfort, a Las Vegas, or Monte
Carlo. Since their dream has been crucified, the disciples are understandably
discouraged and are walking away from it, towards some human solace, despairing
in their hope: "But we had hoped!"
They never get to Emmaus. Jesus appears to
them on the road, reshapes their hope in the light of their disillusionment, and
turns them back towards Jerusalem.
That is one of the essential messages of
Easter: Whenever we are discouraged in our faith, whenever our hopes seem to be
crucified, we need to go back to Galilee and Jerusalem, that is, back to the
dream and the road of discipleship that we had embarked upon before things went
wrong. The temptation of course, whenever the kingdom doesn't seem to work, is
to abandon discipleship for human consolation, to head off instead for Emmaus,
for the consolation of Las Vegas or Monte Carlo.
But, as we know, we never
quite get to Las Vegas or Monte Carlo. In one guise or another, Christ always
meets us on the road to those places, burns holes in our hearts, explains our
latest crucifixion to us, and sends us back – and to our abandoned discipleship.
Once there, it all makes sense again.