Sunday, April 05, 2015

An intimate little spectacle?

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on Easter Day 2015

Why early in the morning?

If you’re going to rise from the dead, why not a big spectacle such as the raising of Lazarus with large crowds? Surely a big stone being rolled out of the way, coupled with a bang and a flash would convince even the hardest atheist that Our Lord has risen from the tomb.

As we’ve been through Lent examining our temptation, the most pressing temptation is to doubt that it’s all true in the first place. The Devil likes to whisper in our ear things like, “how can a man rise from the dead? It’s silly,” or “it’s all a bit of a joke, isn’t it? A monumental misunderstanding.” You can hear people saying just that, can’t you?

Surely, if the Lord were to rise in full view of Pharisees and Romans and all who hate him, there would be no doubt at all that He is precisely Who He has claimed to be all the time – the Son of God. So why not?


Human beings are very good at hardening their hearts. Our Lord Himself warns us that there are those people who “hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” They will always find an excuse not to believe in the Resurrection.

“People don’t rise from the dead.”
“Why not?”
“Because they don’t. It doesn’t happen.”
“How do you know?”
“Because there are no records of people rising from the dead.”
“Aren’t the Gospels a record of someone rising from the dead?”
“They can’t be trusted.”
“Why not?”
“Because people don’t rise from the dead.”
So the argument repeats itself indefinitely.


Yet the fact of the matter is that as many as 500 people saw Jesus after His Death and not as a ghost. It happened! It is an historical fact which is only denied by people whose understanding of the world is limited by the bounds of their own experience.

Yet, only 500 people have seen the Risen Lord, and they went to be with Him a long time ago. So what about us? Don’t we get to see Him?

We do, but not yet. Our Lord reminds us that we must not be faithless, but believe. Human beings are limited in Space and Time, so Jesus Himself is limited by His Humanity. It clearly shouldn’t matter to us that we have to take the word of the Church passed down through two thousand years. It’s the same faith as the apostles receive when they see Our Lord standing in His Risen Glory, the scars on His hands, feet and side as badges of honour. The people of the Church are fallible and frail, but the faith of the Church is strong and infallible.


Our Lord doesn’t need to make the Resurrection bigger. It’s already enormous in that through it, the whole World can be saved. Yet, it is something He only wishes to share with those who want to respond to His love. The Resurrection, then, far from being loud and brash and noisy, becomes intimate, just between friends, a precious secret shared between lovers. That surely says more about the Resurrection than any Noisy Spectacle, doesn’t it?

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