“Christ Among Us”
Eastern religions have always fascinated me, that teach that the world will be restored to a state of perfection through perfect unity, thus the foundation of Eastern religions is the concept, “all is one.” A wide and vague impression exists that so-called Eastern religions are more contemplative, innocuous, and humane than Christianity. Do not believe a word of this: try asking the children of Indochina who were dumped by their parents for inherited deformities that were attributed to sins in a previous 'life.’ The solution to the problem of the world as revealed in Scripture, however, is that God Himself enters into Creation and becomes a part of it. People who take a delight calling themselves “spiritual,” as the disciples of old, prefer their religion like a vapor: nothing down to earth. For them what is spiritual is not what is most alive, but what is least real. It seems, they have not forgiven God for shaping us from the dust of the earth (I call it stardust), nor forgiven Jesus for overcoming death as a guy with a body. They are unable to recognize the holiness that stands among them. They are continuing to live, think, and understand in the usual human categories. They have separated spirit and matter, divinity and humanity, heaven and earth. Whenever we make that separation we close our minds, we deny ourselves the resurrected life for which Christ died, and we lose our sense of and ability to recognize holiness in the world, in one another, and in ourselves.
It is not enough that the tomb is empty. It is not enough to proclaim, “Christ is risen!” It is not enough to believe in the resurrection. At some point, we have to move from the event of the resurrection to experiencing the resurrection. Experiencing resurrected life begins with recognizing the risen Christ among us. That is the gift of Easter and it is the difficulty and challenge in today’s Gospel that describes an encounter with the Risen Lord. The resurrected life of Christ reveals that all Creation and every one of us are filled with God, holiness, and divinity.
Jesus’ resurrection compels us to step outside our usual human understandings of reality and enter into the divine reality. In addition, He recruits as witnesses those other people with bodies. He wants them to move out and tell everyone who will listen and everyone who will not that bodies count, that He is back from the dead with a body, confronting them with life. We cannot try to limit our relationship with God to a mere intellectual exercise. Knowing the Risen Lord is a full-body experience.
Beyond our doors is a world of chaos and pain, littered with broken relationships. We live in a world that is desperate for peace. Violence and war. Division and strife. This is where people live. Therefore, our mission is to share the peace of Christ, to speak peace into the chaos, to be ministers of reconciliation. People are isolated and divided, separated from each other and from God. Our mission is not to rebuke, or instruct, or express our frustration. We are called to share what Christ has shared with us. That is what this back-to-life Jesus wants of us: not names on a list, or what my friend calls “pew potatoes.” Jesus wants us as witnesses. Not airy spirits or pious ghosts, but bodies like His own with wounds to show, bodies that witness to resurrection, challenging the world with love and life. For the only Easter, some people may ever see is the Easter they see in us.