Ps. 16 (v. 10); Isa. 65:17-25; 1 Cor. 15:19-26; Lk. 24:1-12
Why? And as [the women] were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men [in dazzling apparel] said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (v. 5)
According to storied detective, Inspector Endeavor Morse of the Oxford constabulary, a good homicide detective always asks, “why?”; also, a good preacher. If truth is important in mundane death; more so, passage to the realm of eternity.
Christians are baptized to a seeking vocation, the object, “is eternal life … know[ing] … the [Father], and Jesus Christ whom [he] has sent.” (Jn. 17:3).
Eternal life is not essentially about longevity of existence, kicking-back in Elysian Fields; neither is death annihilation of souls or bodies. Baptism makes us new creations for a new heaven and earth; participants with Christ, God’s first fruit in the restoration.
Baptism is a begetting from above, to be children of the Creator. Ultimately the new creation defines our vocation, procreators with the Father, so, the necessity to know the Father by the mind of Christ.
Our sinful flesh seeks to be sated, demanding acquiescence of others by seduction or force; flesh seeks flesh, but Baptism’s cleansed flesh seeks a different flesh, the body of Christ.
In what time I spend with my young grandchildren they seem to have a grasp on their vocation; whether acquiring useful knowledge or to harass, inquiring, “Why mommy, why?” In like manner the Baptized practice our vocation in the congregation, “Why pastor, why?”.
Today brothers and sisters in Christ joyfully celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection. Actually, every Lord’s Day is a Resurrection celebration; we are Resurrection people and our song is “Alleluia”; “Why?”
Some question, “What has Jesus’ bodily resurrection to do with me; here, today, or even on the day of my death?” St. Paul dealt with a more insidious form of this thought, that a spiritualized resurrection does not have to do either with Jesus’ or our flesh.
Here is a warning about Truth; honest questions should never freight hostile assumptions. To those denying Jesus’ bodily resurrection, witnessed by men and angels, Paul says, “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19).
Such an earth time-bound Jesus having failed to slip the confines of the grave might be remembered, if at all, as a philosopher-cum-moralist, another dead Buddha. Our Easter joy is sad counterpoint to Inspector Endeavor Morse’s unbelief!
God’s word calls us to repent a life oriented in this passing world; and focus on the newness of our begetting. Of the church we ask, “Why mother, why?”; which unerringly directs us to our Father in Christ.
Isaiah speaks to the newness of all things through Christ’s bodily resurrection. Baptism places us into Christ’s death, not for philosophical teaching or motivation to deeds, but the love of him and his passion for us; “it is in this manner that God loved the world” (Jn. 3:14, 16).
In Baptism, we receive Christ, who impels to eucharistic wedding Food and Wine. By this fleshly union with Jesus, we enter his death to partake of death’s destruction and risen holiness. If you ask, “Why”; it is no more complex than, “God is love” (1 John 4:8b) who first loved us; who would raise you up in his image and likeness.
By faith’s gift, we are joined to the First Fruit of the Lord’s new flesh. In the Resurrection all vile corruption remains in his grave; thus, we are resurrection people, whose joyous song is “Alleluia”.
Our joy generates from realizing newness of being. Before Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection, our father was the devil, our mother the grave’s dust over which that serpent crawls and feeds.
Before Baptism’s enlightenment from the HS, Scripture was dark; Moses’ words were veiled, masking true knowledge of God. Israel would ask, “Why, God was acting in their midst?” His word from Sinai was en-stoned; it seemed that Israel had exchanged Pharaoh’s servitude for a harsh and demanding Spouse.
But in the revelation of Christ crucified for sin, the church discerns God’s desire for unity with men in their condition through his Son’s flesh. In him, who is the “Imago” and substance of God, we are over-come to know God’s gracious heart by the gospel of Jesus’ kingdom bodily present.
The gospel is not an abstraction, idea, belief, teaching, or philosophy; it is a Person come by water and Word; under crucified and risen bread-Flesh and wine-Blood. His self-giving invites us to ponder the teaching of “mother Church”.
The Resurrection reveals Jesus as truth’s own Light, to whom all Scripture bears witness (Jn. 5:39). By his Light, the church possesses its hearing and remembrance of God’s word in a new place. Christ, resurrected and ascended Lord is the new place of God’s abiding Name bequeathed to we, his children.
Informed by Jesus, God’s Torah word, we are guided through this world by the HS. Daily we are confronted with choices either to life or to death. The church is one communion aligned in the Father’s will for Life by “doing his Word” for abiding and growth; praying as Jesus taught; procreating by “Baptism” into the Father’s house for eucharistic provision.
All the while we navigate this fallen world by faith and heart-eyes. The scaffolding of God’s new construction (Isa. 65:17) sometimes obscures these new things coming into being. But on the Last Day construction debris will fall away amid “Alleluia” songs. The old will dissolve to new, for all to see and hear; to comprehend, “why”.
The “why” of our “Alleluias”, is that we are becoming imitators of Christ. Day by day his resurrected Flesh and God’s Spirit conforms us to reflect on his passionate love and transfigured beauty. Amen.