He is 14, concurrently self-confident and cynical, largely dismissive of anyone’s views besides his own. “Maybe,” he said, “Jesus just crawled or tunneled out of the tomb.” While the explanation satisfied him, his classmates responded more to the tone than the substance and linked the mystery of the empty tomb to hope. Hope is the thread that links the wonder of Passover and the celebration of Ramadan and the existence of Easter. It is woven into the fiber of human beings, a buffer against the bastion of challenges that life delivers. And it is the gift that comes just past the forgiveness offered in Jesus’ cross, which comes just past the boundless presence of the Eucharist defined in the Passover sharing.
This year, Easter and these Holy Days have taken on a whole new meaning, almost simplified, and somehow amplified by merely existing. The Triduum, celebrated like a trifecta of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday with its Easter Vigil, are avenues, pathways, mainstays in the long journey that is life. It was as if the world is invited to the Holy Thursday table, each of us invited to look clearly and cleanly at Ukraine and then acknowledge Yemen, the Cameroons, the suffering global community. To become connected to one another, to acknowledge the mutuality and the kindness that is imparted, to share a common experience, that is the nature of Passover and of the Last Supper. There is a new beginning in its promise, in Jesus’ offering of body and blood in broken bread. There is a sense of real togetherness…..and there is the humanity of Judas’ betrayal.
Good Friday is a mirror of a different sort. There is the chance to see the reality that brutality was not confined to the ancients, to realize that is visited upon one another all over the world everyday. But there is also the chance to be touched by and to impart forgiveness in its most genuine form. It is about realizing that Jesus’ sacrifice was one born of the commonality of the human story He shares with us. The elements may not be the same, but the reality of the suffering, the torture humans know at the hands of one another, is undeniable. The mind-blowing dimension of it all is the aura of forgiveness that engulfs the whole scenario. He was teaching us what to expect, to know that life is impossibly difficult but we can manage. We can make choices; we can manage; we can forgive ourselves and one another; we can manage.
It is the quiet of the tomb itself that is humbling. Every life knows loss and grief. Every life knows pain and suffering. But it is in those miraclous moments when the truth of unconditional love is revealed. Jesus could not be with Mary Magadalene, but he would never leave her. He reveals himself to her first, and then to the Apostles. There is that sustaining presence that enables us to enter into the mystery of life: loss and loneliness built on love and longing.
This Easter, we can become lost in the commercialism of a hallmark holiday or even in the strength of familial traditions. Or, we can tap into forgiveness and hope. We can remember that these Holy Days might just enable us to remember a God who never forgets or abandons us. Maybe it is really all about that unconditional love of God for His people. Happy Easter! Amplified!