“Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” (Luke 24:21-24)
In the movie Jesus of Nazareth, Mary Magdalene comes to the disciples huddled in fear in the upper room. She bursts in full of her wonderful news, only to be met with blank looks and skepticism. She says something along the lines of “you don’t believe me. You think I am mad. I know He was dead. I wept at his feet at the cross. But I saw him. He said my name.” Her contempt for their cowardice is convicting and Peter along with the others risks leaving the safety of the locked doors to run, with John, to the tomb.As the song, Lord of the Dance, says, “They buried my body and they thought I’d gone, but I am the Dance and I still go on.” The men on the leaving Jerusalem and heading for Emmaus did not yet understand that they were talking to the One who danced right out of the grave. They were walking with the One whom the women claimed was alive!
We aren’t all that different from the disciples. We don’t always see Jesus walking with us or understand all that the Empty Tomb means. Saint Ephrem (4th Century poet, musician, theologian) sums up how Christ defeated death in his sermon which says, in part, “The cross of Christ gives life to the human race. Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but he in his turn treated death as a highroad for his own feet…concealed beneath the cloak of his manhood, his godhead engaged death in combat, but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain… He who was also the carpenter’s glorious son set up his cross above death’s all-consuming jaws, and led the human race into the dwelling place of life… Your murderers sowed your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead.” (read the sermon) The final line reminds me of the Lord of the Dance and of the Easter hymn Now the Green Blade Rises by John Clum.
What locked doors are we-you and I-hiding behind, fearful to let the Lord of the Dance in? Because our Lord has triumphed we can take courage, like Mary Magdalene, to be brave enough to speak convicting words of love to the world. The men on the road to Emmaus thought their hope was dead. Instead, it was just STARTING! The Love of God has conquered all that we might fear. Just like the hymn tells us, “Now the green blade rises from the buried grain, Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain; Love lives again, that with the dead has been: Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.”We should join with St. Ephrem, who ended his sermon with a call to action. “Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before him who offered his cross in sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.”
Next week, Jesus reveals himself to the travelers.