More Thoughts on Easter and the Empty Tomb

A few days ago I wrote about some of my unease over Easter both in its meaning and how it is celebrated. I’ve been thinking more about this. Certainly a large part of this is unease over how it is celebrated. I’ve never been a big fan of the “more is better” school of liturgy; our Easter Vigil celebration this year begins Saturday night at 10PM and will almost certainly last until the wee hours of Sunday morning. Typically parishes pick only the best readers to read, the choir sings the most complex and difficult music, and nearly everything gets thrown into the mix. Also, everyone who has been journeying to join the Catholic Church (through a process called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, or RCIA) is welcomed into the church that evening. We are blessed, as always, with a large group.

But that said, where does an empty tomb on a quiet morning with a few grieving friends fit? Certainly we celebrate an empty tomb only because it lacks what it was supposed to contain: the body of Jesus. But how did we go from that nothingness to this celebration of everything-ness? Can we find a way to celebrate the stillness of that morning? Is there away to allow the quiet to speak for itself? Unfortunately that quiet has been much of the penitential nature of Lent, the season that is closing.

In fairness I see the burst of excitement and energy that comes with the recognition that even death could not defeat Jesus, and that our worst fear has turned into our greatest joy. Perhaps Easter would be easier for me if I saw that the day after Easter wasn’t much the same as the day before. Jesus preached that he would rise from the dead and give eternal life to everyone but he also preached a Kingdom where the hungry would be fed and the enslaved would be freed. I wish I saw more of that. A few days ago on Andrew Sullivan’s blog a reader wrote in to talk about how upsetting it was to listen to the account of the Passion knowing that we continue the torture of “enemy combatants” in the same way that Jesus was tortured. That puts us on the same plane as the Roman soldiers. Well, enough for now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *