Anyone who has ever been to a burial service in a cemetery knows how gaping the six-foot hollow in the earth is. If we peer into the empty space, it seems to go down forever. It is deep, foreboding, not just a little bit frightening. We are much more comfortable when the casket is lowered, the earth has been replaced and cultivated and planted, and living green grassreplaces the gaping hollow. Death and tombs have a finality about them. No doubt so Mary, Peter and John believed as they raced to the place where the lifeless Jesus had been laid. They simply did not yet understand. They sought a lifeless body and found an empty tomb. They queried about “where” and discovered “what”. They simply did not yet understand. They simply did not understand that he had to rise from the dead.
Our belief in the Resurrection must begin with the empty tomb. It is the empty tomb that brings us to raise the question about where they put Jesus’ lifeless body. It is the empty tomb that sends us searching for what we thought was lifeless. It is the empty tomb that brings us to belief: Jesus is alive, he is risen. Only as the risen Lord comes to us does our own belief in the meaning of the empty tomb continually grow. Easter faith is never still.
Jesus’ risen presence can be found where we least expect it – in the gentle smile, in the unexpected extension of a helping hand, in the goodness and generosity of oyr family and neighbors and friends. And even perfect strangers.
Easter teaches us that we must give ourselves over for others in total love. This is the paschal mystery. Easter faith is never still. The risen Lord is always active. In our Easter faith. In our acts of love.