2018-04-04 / Columns

Easter Morning
By Father James Kruger

In the Gospel, everything gets turned on its head: the last is first; the leader serves; strength is made perfect in weakness. The Easter proclamation is no different: victory is won by defeat, and death overcome by death. There is something exciting, even scandalous, about the New Testament’s insistence on the lordship of Jesus, a poor wandering preacher who died a shameful death. This insistence challenges the power structures of this world.

To claim Jesus as Lord of all is to mock worldly power, but to stake this claim comes with a cost. Saint Matthew’s Gospel reads, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves ... Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them … and you will be hated … for my name’s sake.” (Matt 10:16-22). Perhaps the greatest Christian irony is why anyone would follow Jesus in the first place. The answer is in Easter morning.

Symbolic language

The scriptures are rich in symbolic language. Something, however, happened on Easter morning; something historical, real; something compelling and powerful enough to carry the early Christians through the most horrible of circumstances: James, Bartholomew, and Paul beheaded; Peter, Jude, and Andrew crucified; Thomas run through with a spear; John banished in exile. And for what? For Easter morning; for the victory of love over the powers of apathy, greed, tyranny, and death itself.

As it turns out, maybe might does not make right. Maybe the strong do not and should not always win; maybe there is another option besides merely looking out for number one; maybe the Gospel, the lordship of a crucified man who died for love and was vindicated by that love, is the most realistic, the most sustainable, the most authentic claim to stake.

Our chief imperative

Maybe it is, in fact, the chief imperative in a world like ours. What we have seen on Easter morning is that we will endure only in and by sacrificial love; that the way of the cross is, ironically, the way into a fuller, deeper, richer, more authentic life; that we can, after all, trust this life despite its many difficulties. Easter has revealed a life that is bigger than our own, bigger than the sum of us, bigger even than death.

To quote George McLeod, Christ was crucified “between two thieves, on the town garbage dump, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan that they had to write his title in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. It was the kind of place where cynics talk smut, thieves curse, soldiers gamble.”

That’s the world in which Christ lived; that’s the world for which Christ died. It is not a fairy-tale world, but our world; our messy, broken, violent, bitter, cynical, smug, tragic world, and neither Jesus nor his disciples were afraid of it, at least not after Easter morning, for they knew a life bigger than themselves. Be counted, then, among the people of Easter morning, the people of the Resurrection, the people of God’s astounding life which cannot be held prisoner in a tomb; the life whose strength is made perfect in weakness; that leads in the servant; that survives in sacrificial love.

James Krueger serves as Priest in Charge at Saint James Church Lake Delaware on Route 28 in Bovina. He is founder of Mons Nubifer Sanctus, a center dedicated to Christian spiritual formation through retreats and educational programs. To find out more about the retreats and programs that Mons Nubifer Sanctus offers, including Lenten silent retreats, please visit their website at www.monsnubifer.org, where Fr. Krueger also regularly blogs.

Courtesy of Hynes Funeral Home, Margaretville and Miller Funeral Home, Roxbury

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