Big changes in life are often hard. Changes are especially hard when they might involve our family. It’s hard when we’re confronted with some great sadness or tragedy. It’s especially hard when it concerns the death of a loved one, such as a spouse, or parent, or even a child. Perhaps these changes (or forced new life situations) are some of the hardest to deal with. When these kinds of changes occur we can find ourselves overcome by a sense of loss, or sadness, or despair.
The disciples of Jesus had been confronted with very hard and jarring changes as well. Most of them never really understood what Jesus was talking about when he spoke of the Messiah being put to death and rising again. So when Jesus was arrested, crucified and killed, they were lost and disillusioned, despairing. They had such high hopes for what Jesus would do for them and for all of Israel, and then to see him humiliated and killed was just too much for them to handle. And then the women, particularly Mary Magdalene, who go to the tomb of Jesus early Sunday morning after the Sabbath to anoint the body of Jesus – their way of showing him one last act of love and respect for all he had done for them. Once again, they become distressed at meeting with change and the unexpected. Even though Jesus had spoken of his resurrection, they never fully understood, so they were not expecting it. They immediately thought someone had taken the body. How could this situation get any worse?
But when the women and the other disciples encountered the Risen Jesus, they were overjoyed. They realized that in all these jarring, and at times painful/unexpected changes, God was at work bringing about his plans for greater good. The resurrection of Jesus shows us that in the providential designs of God, there are no hopeless situations that should leave us despairing about our future. The resurrection of Jesus is to be our assurance of hope that God is faithful, especially with regard to eternity. Is our faith a resurrection faith? Is our faith rooted in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead? We live our lives in sadness or despair, in fear or anxiety, in anger or resentment, usually because we are not really open to the possibilities of God. We are not really open to the change that he wants to bring about within us and in the world around us – even if that might occur through the unexpected or a perceived sadness. When change happens to us in our life – good or bad – our faith in God and our relationship with him must also change and grow.
The disciples of Jesus weren’t really expecting change. They weren’t expecting Jesus to be killed. Nor were they expecting the resurrection. But throughout the changes they faced, their faith was tried, and following the resurrection, they did things that history cannot reasonably explain without admitting God at work. We tend to be afraid of the unexpected and God’s surprises. But the resurrection shows us that that is how God works with us. He always surprises us! In the words of Pope Francis: “… let us not be closed to the newness that God wants to bring into our lives! Do we think that we won’t be able to cope? Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up: there are no situations which God cannot change, there is no sin he cannot forgive if only we open ourselves to him… Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness… and that is where death is… Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.”
May the resurrection of Jesus give us the sure and certain hope of God working amidst the changes and unexpected events of our life, and that he will use them to our spiritual benefit (as long as we are open) so that we may share eternal resurrection with him. May God bless you, and happy Easter!