Easter Morning: Excerpt From Daybreak

Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but He has been raised.       Luke 24: 5-6

Nothing could stop me from going to the tomb. The Lord guided my footsteps. Finally the gate of the garden came into sight. It was appropriate He rested in a garden. That was His Father’s original intention for all His creation, to live in the garden of Eden. There were sounds of earth’s awakening all around. Birds singing, a small brook splashing over rocks, a gentle breeze rustling through the trees.

I saw the place where we hid yesterday and then the tomb. The entrance was open, the specially made stone rolled to one side. There were no guards or mourners. I hesitated but could not resist entering. The slab was empty where a dead man should have been. Only the burial cloth and the costly scent of myrrh and aloe remained. The appealing fragrance filled the tomb. It felt sacred. In one corner on a small ledge, I noticed the face cloth of Yehua folded neatly. The light from the entrance lit up the whole area. He had risen as He said!

Trembling I knelt on the stone floor uttering a prayer of gratitude. The Messiah had come. Born like every man and He died so men might live forever. He conquered death by dying and rising. Who could understand the mind of the Lord?

I left the tomb and walked outside into the light. Everything appeared more intense and vivid. Something made me look down and I saw a patch of tiny white flowers, the kind I’d picked for Sarai the night we met on the roof of my uncle’s home.

I had to tell my dearest relatives: Yeshua had risen! I had to tell everyone.

Holy Thursday: Food for Thought

Today begins the journey of the Passion. Many of us know the story well but it is surprising how many do not, in our increasingly pagan world. Holy Thursday begins the final days of Divinity who became part of humanity. Being human, we can imagine the thoughts, fears and emotions of the Eternal Galilean (a great book by Archbishop Fulton Sheen). Unlike most of the human race, Jesus knew what was about to happen. He wasn’t sick or old. In fact He would ask later that night that this cup would pass from Him… the human part of God’s Son really didn’t want to die and certainly not by crucifixion.

What did He do the day before His death on the cross? He prepared to celebrate the greatest feast day of His earthly family, God’s chosen people, the Jews. He organized the party, first telling two disciples they would meet a man in a certain place in Jerusalem carrying a water jug and tell him their Master wanted to have the Passover Feast at his home. How this man knew he should agree is not mentioned in the Gospels; perhaps an angel came to him or a dream or any number of ways in which we know the desires of our God.

Jesus said He greatly desired to have the Passover meal with his Apostles. As the Jews long ago passed over the Red Sea to freedom, Jesus was about to pass over from this life to eternity. It was a better life there with His Father but He had lived and loved his friends and all of humanity on His earthly journey.  He knew what was ahead — great physical, mental and emotional suffering. At this last supper with His closest friends, He would give then a Gift, food and drink that would sustain them on their journey; the mystery of all mysteries: bread and wine that would become through His Word His own body and blood. Like the Passover He entreated them to continue to have this meal in memory of Him until He returned and to hand down the story of  His Gift to future generations.

During this Last Supper Jesus knew he would be betrayed by one of His closest friends. He knew all present would abandon Him that very night. Yet as they left the upper room Jesus sang on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives. He would be seized by His assassins in a garden. It was in a garden that humanity was destined to die because of disobedience to their Father and in a garden Jesus would accept His death so men and women might defeat death and live forever as the Father intended. We are on our own journey to death and eternal life. We should sing as Jesus did on the way. Life is indeed a choice.

{The account of Jesus Passion, death and resurrection is told in each of the four Gospels.}