Easter Vigil

The three women in tonight’s gospel were rushing to the tomb of Jesus to do him an ultimate favour they hadn’t done on Friday because of lack of time. Although they had diligently observed the rest of the Sabbath, their minds had been at work all that time, planning ahead. This is why on the way to Jesus’ tomb they were so well prepared with spices used for traditional Jewish burial. Yet they hadn’t solved all possible problems; they worried about the large stone closing the entrance.

But when they reach the place it turned out that nothing went as planned. The stone had been rolled away, so one potential problem was solved. But the tomb was empty – it meant their preparations were in vain. They wasted the time of the Sabbath, they wasted their money buying spices… If they had listened to Jesus before his death, they might have spent better their time and their money – and probably they wouldn’t have had to wake up before the dawn.

Instead of Jesus’ body they found a young man in white robes on the right hand side. Actually this description sounds pretty familiar… I’m rather young, I’m wearing white robes and I’m on the right hand side. Someone would say that was the angel – and  I am not. Well, yes and no… The Greek word ‘angelos’ means ‘a messenger’, not necessarily of heavenly origin. Anyway, that young man was a messenger: he passed some details about Jesus, and gave them some directions what to do next.

The message is simple and direct: ‘Jesus has risen, he is not here.’ There are only two possible options: to believe him or not. Did they trust the messenger? Well, I don’t know… He told them to go to Galilee to meet the Christ. I’m not sure they did it; surely not instantly. Personally I’ve been recently wondering why Jesus wanted them to go to Galilee after his resurrection. I think I’ve found the answer.

Galilee was a rural province with little political or social life compared to Jerusalem. Forgive me this comparison, but it was like Buckie and Glasgow or Edinburgh. But Galilee was also the place where most of Jesus’ followers met him for the first time. It was like first love. During his public activity many expected him to be politically involved – his mission apparently accomplishing in Jerusalem seemed to prove the point. But his mission was the redemption of human spirit, not a social and political revolution. Calling the disciples from the political hot-bath of Jerusalem to the calm origins of Galilee was an invitation to re-discover Jesus’ true mission.

As a Catholic Church we’ve been recently involved in great disputes of our times: abortion, euthanasia, gay marriages and so on. Hot political discussions over social revolution. Fine. I personally see Easter as calling us to return to the origins of Christianity, to basic truths and moral choices. What is that? Personal choice followed by faithful steadiness. We can have everything and anything decreed by law. But even the most restrictive one is helpless against strong personal views. Christianity changed the Roman Empire because Christians changed their lives.

In a while we’ll be called to renew our baptismal vows. We’ll be asked to reject Satan and his works, and to follow God’s path. It is only your very own personal choice, if you reply ‘I do’ because it stands in the book, or because you truly want to fulfil this declaration in your everyday life.