My Dear Fellow believers! I think that most of us could recall a similar situation; this overwhelming feeling of emptiness when someone or something important to us is missing. It can be the emptiness left by someone we loved. It can come from betrayal, misunderstanding or envy. It can be triggered by the loss of a job, failing health, shattered plans or dreams. It can happen to us when we realize our sinfulness, lack of integrity, when we are disappointed with ourselves. This emptiness can come from the disappearance of that lively and simple faith we once enjoyed as children or absence of comfort we used to have when we turned to God, when we worshiped in our faith communities. All these situations become for us an empty tomb. We may attempt to run there like Mary of Magdala, Peter and John did in our Gospel reading, hoping that what was familiar to us, what was treasured by us, can be in some form still found there. Yet the tomb is empty. It is empty of what was old, what was familiar to us, what was before. A German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche even said: ‘God is dead.’ However what I hear in these words is a cry of profound desolation. Similar cry I can hear in our society which claims to be secular. However I don’t think that our society is secular. It may not be church going. I may ignore God. However the void needs to be filled somehow rather.
It is filled when people start expecting of other people or things to provide them with what only God can provide. We can lay people with a burden which is heavier than the cross Jesus Christ carried. It happens when we expect from people the love, forgiveness, perfection which can only be found in God. It is a crushing burden we place on people when we expect them to replace God for us.
The void we discover in us we may also attempt to fill when we expect from the things which possess or desire to possess, to give us security, hope, joy and fulfillment which can ultimately come only from God.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! There was a time when the Son of God was in a tomb. We call it Holy Saturday. However Holy Saturday ended when Jesus Christ was raised. The Sunday which followed ‘unlocked for us the path to eternity’ as we prayed in our opening prayer for this Mass of the Resurrection. I am moved and strengthened by this prayer because it captures that the mighty work accomplished by the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is not forced upon us. Rather it is a path marked by growth in faith in the midst of our ups and downs.
On Easter Sunday Jesus was risen but his disciples were still followers of Friedrich Nietzsche as they believed that ‘God was dead’ because the Resurrection of Jesus was not accomplished in the spotlights or in front of the mass media. The first Easter Sunday morning was for the disciples as dark and empty as Holy Saturday. The tomb to which they rushed was not a sign of hope yet. It was just a further expression of the emptiness they had in them. However the Spirit of God begins to manifest his work. The disciple Jesus loved, the one who followed Jesus from the beginning of the Lord’s mission until his redeeming death on the cross, starts putting the pieces of Jesus’ teaching and the sight of the empty tomb together. What is the result? ‘He believed.’ He hadn’t seen Jesus risen yet but he had come to believe in the Resurrection. We haven’t seen the Lord either but from one generation to another was pass on the Good News which turns the emptiness into which we run every now and then into the joy of the presence of the Risen Lord and the new life, ‘this path to eternity.’ We repeat, treasure and celebrate that at the outset of our Christian religion is what St Peter announced to Cornelius as we could hear it in our First Reading: ‘People killed Jesus by hanging him on the tree, yet three days afterwards God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen…We are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead.’
In the light of that message of the Resurrection I am grateful for those lovely holidays I had as a child. Although I miss my grandma like I miss my dad who died many years ago I know that they were my grandma and dad not my God. The emptiness left by them is now filled with the Risen Lord. What my loved ones gave me is a taste of more I am given every day by my God and Lord.
I pray this Easter Sunday for you my Dear Sisters and Brothers so that if you experience some form of emptiness in you these days you may believe that the Risen Jesus wants to fill it with his presence and new life like this empty chalice will be soon filled with his precious blood.
Happy Easter. Christ is risen. Alleluia.