Monday, July 30, 2012

The only truly "God-forsaken" place on earth

Alright, the title is a bit of literary flourish - it got your attention though, didn't it?  Because of God's immanence He is present to us absolutely anywhere.  I'm looking to get at another deep truth in this post though, one that a pastor shared with me twenty some years ago, and that returned to me while praying the Rosary last night:

Innermost chamber of Jesus' tomb
I was fourteen years old, just a year into seriously trying to live as a disciple.  My parish's new pastor, Fr. Bernard Wilkins, gave a slideshow presentation of his pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  I will never forget what he said when he came to Jesus' tomb within the Holy Sepulchre, "I put my head in to look and emerged . . . disappointed.  I realized that I had been expecting, at least unconsciously, to experience Jesus' presence there, but I felt nothing.  Then it occurred to me, 'the tomb is the one place you won't find Him'!"  Perhaps it was his guardian angel, repeating the question posed by his angelic comrades on the morning of the Resurrection, "Why do you seek the Living One among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen!" (Lk.24:5).

The Resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, is what transformed the Apostles into men of boldness.  The same Jesus Who had been raised to life after suffering death lived within them.  They were not crippled by threats of financial hardship, physical suffering, or martyrdom because they knew that "He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you" (Rom.8:11).

Jesus' empty tomb is what allows us, today, to say, "If God is for us, then who cares who's against us?"  (my paraphrase of Rom.8:31)

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