It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’
So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
Imagine birth from the point of view of the baby in the womb. The baby knows only the world that it is leaving and nothing about the outside world into which it is being born. It knows nothing of the gift of reason and consciousness that it will develop. From the point of view of the baby, the expulsion from familiar surroundings and the cutting of the umbilical cord that is its source of life might seem as fearful a prospect as death is to us, and for the same reasons. If we could talk to the baby in the womb and tell it what was about to happen at birth, it might be understandably fearful and want to remain in the comfort of the womb. It would take a great act of faith for the baby to trust that the loss of its mother was worth it. Instead of losing the life-giving mother, we might explain to the baby that it is now embarking on a new adventure, outside the warmth and comfort and darkness of the womb and that it would, in fact, see the Mother face-to-face now. Firstly, however, would have to come the trauma of birth. In the world into which we have been born, in our time and place, the human person is rarely credited with having a soul. Everyone is analysed in terms of complexes and chemicals and valued only as a potential customer and consumer. It is a world where no meaning or value is given us or lasts for ever; where we choose, not between eternal destinies but between lifestyle options; where we compensate for meaninglessness and poor self-esteem with shopping and self-indulgence and yet despair when faced with the prospect of death. It is a blessed thing to be gifted with a faith that takes the sting from death; that directs us on the pilgrimage that is life and that makes living meaningful and worthwhile. This is what Christ has done for us. He came out of love to show us how much we are loved by the Father. He came to teach us and tell us that we are children of the one Father, that his father is Our Father. He came to tell us that we are loved to a depth and with such feeling that even a violent and cruel death could not destroy or end such love. There is no wrongdoing that his love cannot transform, no darkness that his light cannot penetrate; no cruelty that can stand in God’s redeeming way. He demands only that those who believe in what he revealed about the father; who have been touched by his love should follow his example in pouring out their lives for God and for others. The life and the legacy of Christ is that love is what transforms; love is what redeems; love is what lasts.