I can remember as a kid anticipating being asked
by my mom or dad to go to the basement for something.
Whether it was the laundry, a hammer, or a book,
I really tried to resist going down there by myself
or make as few trips as possible.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to help my parents, no.
It was the fact that I had to walk
past the backdoor of the basement that led outside.
Now this wasn’t the typical back door – of course not.
It was a door that had tinted plexi-glass windows
that you couldn’t see through clearly.
It opened up to a few cement stairs
that you had to walk up to another door,
kind of like the one in the Wizard of Oz,
where they went to be safe from the tornado.
Now as I came to realize later on in life
a shadow was cast from the slight crack
in the opening of the outside door onto the glass.
Of course, in my mind it meant a monster was there.
And so, each time I had to go down the basement for something
I pretended the door just wasn’t there, and so I wouldn’t look at it.
Inevitably, as I was getting the laundry, the hammer, or the book,
some sort of noise would, I believed, come from the door –
and so I would fly back up those stairs as fast as I could,
sometimes with the laundry, the hammer, or the book –
and sometimes (most times) with nothing.
The good parents that they were, over and over again,
my mom and dad would come down the basement,
with me creeping behind them, and fearlessly open the back door
and show me time and time again that nothing was there,
that there was nothing to be scared about.
Today’s gospel reading from John,
which is the same year after year,
is not unlike my encounter with the basement back door.
Mary Magdalene comes to Jesus’ tomb
on that first Easter morning and encounters the unexpected:
the stone is rolled away from the tomb,
and so, in fear, she runs back to the Upper Room
(perhaps faster than I!)
where she meets up with Peter and the other disciple,
who join her in running back to the tomb
to investigate and find the burial clothes wrapped neatly.
They go into the tomb and come out to see that nothing is there.
Indeed, nothing is there, for death is gone!
We hear that the other disciple, which our tradition often claims
to be John, the beloved disciple,
comes to Easter faith at this encounter,
but Mary Magdalene and Peter do not right away.
This empty tomb points to the Resurrection,
and it will be a little later in the story
when the disciples have an encounter of the Risen Christ,
when it will begin to make even more sense to them,
when they look back on the life of this man Jesus
and see that this is what God was doing all along,
culminating in Christ’s own Resurrection!
And what is it that God was doing, has been doing all along,
but continuing to re-create, to make things new and fresh –
for the new life of Christ, found in Christ,
the new creation cannot be contained, even in a tomb!
It bursts forth and rolls stones away,
anything that once may have blocked it is now gone, rolled away,
even death itself,
letting new things emerge and spring forth!
This Easter, this highest of feasts in our Church,
invites us once again to go into our lives and go to the places
that we have shied away from, which we have feared,
the places that we pretend aren’t there, those tombs,
those backdoors we’ve been running away from,
and to allow the power of Christ to roll away the stones
that have been blocking new life and growth from emerging.
They are places, they are relationships in need of healing,
that have been covered in darkness for quite some time
and have yet to be discovered by us, that God so wants us to see.
They are judgments we have made,
or ideas and thoughts we are fixated with,
Or things that have happened to us that have stifled us,
all of which God wants us to roll away
and allow the Spirit to move around us.
Of course, none of this is done on our own,
we do this as a community, in a community,
as brothers and sisters in Christ.
As we renew our baptismal promises this day
and as we celebrate Eucharist,
we are united with all those
who joined our community last night at the Vigil,
and we remind ourselves that we are knit to each other
and to the Christ who strengthens us
to embrace the new life that God has in store for all of us.
With Easter Faith, let us run
together with the Beloved Disciple,
as the Beloved Disciples that we are,
to those places and embrace the Resurrection,
the new life in Christ, with Christ, as Christ!
Kevin M. DePrinzio, OSA