“If you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above… You are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God….” (Col 3:1-2)
Dear Brothers and Friends,
The first Easter began in the most abysmal sadness. Jesus was gone. It was over. There was no hope. Two of the disciples realise the situation is untenable, and they take to flight, going on a holiday to forget it all. There was reason. Their only hope had been cruelly executed. Life no longer held any purpose.
There are years when we reach Easter, we find ourselves in a situation that is similar to the disciples on that first Easter. This is one of them. Our churches are empty, the joyful celebrations we are used to have been taken away. A great number of people have died, many others are infected, and the whole world suffers from isolation, incertitude, insecurity about the future. For many, this Easter brings no joy. But of course, that is normal if we only look at ourselves.
What we need to do is direct the eyes of our souls in another direction. We will find that, if we do, things change. So what is the direction? I propose two. The first is to focus our on the person of Our Blessed Lord. This is His day of triumph. He conquers death, and returns to life, a new inamissible life. He is immensely happy and blessed in Himself. A number of the saints were gratified with visions of His glory. St Gertrude tells us of a vision she had of the Risen Saviour: “He was standing, in the presence of the Trinity, full of youth and grace, like a springtime of flowers. On each of His members he bore a flower of such beauty and such brightness that nothing visible or material can even give an idea”. The vision ravished her heart, as it would any of us if we truly love Jesus.
“Let all things be loved for Jesus’ sake,” we read in the Imitation of Christ, “but Jesus for His own sake. Jesus Christ alone is singularly to be loved, who alone is found good and faithful above all friends. For His sake, and in Him let both friends and enemies be dear to thee, and for all these thou must pray to Him that all may know and love Him… When Jesus is present all things go well, and nothing seems difficult; but when Jesus is absent everything is hard….”
The second direction we are invited to look to is the heavenly abode where at this very moment untold legions of souls now behold the face of God and are immersed in eternal felicity.
“O most happy mansion of the city above!,” we read again in the Imitation, O most bright day of eternity, which knows no night, but is always enlightened by the sovereign truth! A day always joyful, always secure, and never changing its state for the contrary! Oh, that this day would shine upon us, and all those temporal things would come to an end! It shines indeed upon the saints, resplendent with everlasting brightness, but to us pilgrims upon earth it is seen only as afar off, and through a glass.
“O good Jesus, when shall I stand to behold Thee? When shall I contemplate the glory of Thy kingdom? When wilt Thou be all in all to me?”
The gate to that eternal felicity is now opened, as we are reminded in today’s collect. Death is conquered, the gates to eternal life are opened. Let us long to enter therein and take part in the everlasting banquet of the kingdom of God.
If you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above… You are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God….”