At Easter, and in every Eucharist, we celebrate the fullness of the paschal mystery: Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. The resurrection does not erase the suffering and death of Christ, nor does it remove our own. Rather, resurrection is the revelation of reality.
God’s divine life of dynamic love is a reality hidden in the tombs of our personal and communal sins, a life that is contradicted by the scourges of our injustices and by the cowardice of our failures to care. Yet in the midst of sin, Christ is the incarnate and faithful witness to God’s reality, to love itself. The reality of that love, which may seem only an absurd illusion, is embodied eternally in Christ’s resurrection, and shown to be the deepest and ultimate reality.
Through the Holy Spirit we are born of God and become members of Christ’s body. If Christ lives in us, then our own faithful witness to God’s reality offers no shortcuts around suffering and death. Rather, living the resurrection is to exist as God exists, to love as God loves.
Thomas Merton writes:
As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another, because this love is the resetting of a Body of broken bones. Even saints cannot live with saints on this earth without some anguish, without some pain at the differences that come between them. There are two things which men can do about the pain of disunion with other men. They can love or they can hate. Hatred recoils from the sacrifice and the sorrow that are the price of the resetting of bones. It refuses the pain of reunion.
Living the resurrection means embracing the pain of reunion rather than the anesthesia of isolation. Easter asks us to trust that while living the resurrection is not easy, it is our calling, our hope, and our reality.
(1) Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation (New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation 2007) 72.