I wonder what that small group who remained was thinking as they looked upon the bare cross that Friday afternoon, the Lord’s lifeless body now cradled in his mother’s arms. How distant the past must have felt for Mary and the others in that moment: the angel, the shepherds and the Magi, finding him in the Temple, the voice of the Father at the Jordan, feeding the multitudes, healing the sick, the blind & the lame, raising the dead, the teachings, the love, and the mercy. In the midst of their grief and the rush to bury his body before the setting of the sun, I believe that his mother, possibly the only one, remained resolute in faith, that God’s will be done…. that God’s will was not done yet in its fullness.
I wonder if anyone came that Passover day, that Saturday, to sit in silence; to wonder, to mourn, or maybe to wait.
I wonder what those holy women were feeling early in the morning on that first day of the week, as the Scriptures teach us, when Mary Magdalene and the others came to the tomb only to find it void of the one whom they sought, when in their amazement they were told:
Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here (Mark 16:6).
Those holy women were the first to receive the good news that has forever changed the course of human history and the meaning of our shared human experience.
On this Easter day, the mystery of the cross and the empty tomb looms large. The two truly form one mystery because their meanings are not fully realized alone. Without the empty tomb, the cross stands only as a monument to brutality; without the cross, the joy of the empty tomb is lacking. It is the same for us in our lives.
We carry the burden of the crosses of our lives, but faith teaches us that these crosses are not ends in themselves when we unite them with the Cross of the Lord Jesus; no cross comes without the promise of resurrection. The resurrection moments of our lives are made all the sweeter because of the sacrifices and hardships that have preceded them.
In the end, having borne the trials of this life and having persevered in faith, the joy of everlasting life will be unlike anything that we can imagine now. Until then, the empty tomb stands as the Lord’s promise to us and all who live and die in his friendship.
On behalf of Bishop Paprocki and the Cathedral clergy and staff, I pray that the Lord will bless you and yours this Easter with the fullness of his grace and the joy that comes from him alone. With every cross may you remember that it is not the end.
In moments of sacrifice and desolation may you know that you are not alone or forsaken. May you always be mindful that Easter teaches us that God always gets the last word, and in the case of the cross and the tomb, his last word is life.
All honor, praise, and glory to the risen Christ, who, by his death and resurrection, has gained for us the rewards of everlasting life! Happy Easter!
Father Christopher House is the Rector of the Cathedral and serves in various roles within the diocesan curia, namely Chancellor and Vicar Judicial.