Bishop Ralph – Easter Reflection – Sheffield Catholic Cathedral.
This Easter reflection may just reach you within the octave of Easter! I am grateful to Fr Ronald Rolheiser, the author and columnist, for the following insight into the easter story.
The God we worship never tries to overpower us or push us in a direction that we would rather not go. God always respects our freedom. Rolheiser suggests that the Easter story is very good example of this simple truth. The gospels insist that after the resurrection, his tomb was empty. Those who encountered Jesus after the resurrection could see him, hear him, and touch him. His friends shared food with him. Interestingly enough, however, it doesn’t seem to have been big news at the time, nor did it result in a huge following of Jesus or a universal change of heart of the people. Jesus was seen by some and not by others. There were those who embraced the message and their lives were changed and others who remained indifferent or disbelieving.
How could this be? How could some embrace the mystery and others be left indifferent, and worse? Rolheiser suggests that the clue is in a saying of the great 11th century German theologian and mystic, Hugo St Victor: “Love is the eye”. Life’s experience teaches us that when we look at anything through the eyes of love, we see correctly and understand and appreciate fully. The reverse, however, is also true. When we look at anything through the eyes that are jealous or angry, we do not see correctly, nor do we fully understand.
ln John’s account of the Easter story we are told that Mary of Magdala, out of love for her master, goes out in search for him to anoint his dead body according to custom. The others remain where they are and as they are. When she arrives, she finds an empty tomb. She runs back to Peter and the beloved disciple to tell them that the tomb is empty. The two disciples set out towards the tomb together. John tells us that the younger of the two arrives first but waits for the other. It is Peter who enters the tomb first and sees the linen cloths that had covered the body of Jesus. There is no mention of what he understands about what he sees. In contrast, John tells us that the beloved disciple “saw and he believed”. John’s account of the Easter story, Rolheiser says, would suggest that it is, in fact, love that lets us see and understand the resurrection.
Love is the reason why some saw Jesus after the resurrection and some did not. Love is the reason why some understood the resurrection and some did not.
The Lord is truly risen! I pray that for each of us “love is the eye” that will enable us to see and rejoice in the presence of the risen Lord this Eastertide and share that good news with others.