Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Vile Bodies: Reflection for Holy Week

Good Friday, a somber day this week for Christians, is not hard to enter into. We are surrounded by pain and suffering and often ask, Why? It is natural to identify with the human agony of Jesus on the cross, with the reality of death.

Yet to move from darkness to light, to grasp the mystery of Easter with its story of resurrection, is much harder, I think. I don't mean we necessarily doubt the reality of Christ's ability to overcome death, but the resurrection of what the Book of Common Prayer calls our "vile bodies" implied in his Resurrection is something else again. It requires a greatest act of faith possible.

I think of the ashes of those scattered at sea, of those ancient kings whose hearts were buried on one place, the rest of them somewhere else, and of all the billions of bodies burned, unidentified, buried in mass graves, tossed into the sea and lost. Yet we must believe that the power of God is able to bring them all to life again one day and re-unite them with their souls. The Nicene Creed makes it clear.

But it's not easy to think about or to grasp such a power; it is the ultimate test of our willingness to believe in what we cannot understand yet hope for--a greater challenge even than the idea that the Son of God could die.

This Holy Week I think of all those I know who suffer, including a 21-year-old man named Derek, who endures great pain and knows he might die. I hope he feels the strength of those praying for him. I hope that all the others in pain, many old and yearning for death, know that the pain will end and that their death will be a new beginning. Somehow, as John of the Cross wrote, a great love awaits us.

But the full meaning of Easter and our radical transformation is beyond all knowing.

No comments: