The Resurrection of our Lord
The women . . . told these things to the apostles,
but these words seemed to them an idle tale,
and they did not believe them.
“These words seemed to them an idle tale.” Luke tells us.
On par with a fishing story about the one that got away, I suppose,
or a news report from a tabloid like the National Enquirer,
or a first century version of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!”
An empty tomb?! No way. Ridiculous.
It must have been grave robbers.
Resurrection? Nonsense. Preposterous. An idle tale.
Everyone knows that death is final.
And besides, everyone knows (in that day, anyway) that
women couldn’t possibly be witnesses in any official matter.
What’s our reaction to this?
Women: perplexed, frightened
Other disciples: incredulous at the women’s report (an idle tale)
Peter: marveled at what had happened.
Disciples later: disbelieving for joy, and marveling (24.41)
This story invites a response from those of us who hear it.
Our response, like the first disciples, may vary.
But there IS a response: we’ll either believe or we don’t.
If we don’t, so be it.
God won’t force us to believe like some divine puppeteer
pulling our strings and moving us across the stage.
A coerced faith is neither true faith nor devotion.
But then, that has never been God’s way.
God woos us to faith, invites us, courts us, draws us.
God may create in our lives opportunities
for us to “wake up” and come to our senses
like the younger son in the parable of the prodigal son.
But God will let us live as we want.
But if our response is faith, no matter how halting or tentative,
then something else also happens.
This seed of faith that is planted in us
will begin to shape us more and more into Jesus’ image.
It will begin to re-form us, putting to death in us
those attitudes and behaviors and perspectives
that would distract us from our devotion and service to God.
It’s a messy process.
There’s no straight line of progress, but rather,
it’s a journey filled with twists and turns;
times of great faith and devotion, and, perhaps,
times of doubt and despair and occasionally
a witness muted by life’s circumstances
or our own faulty choices.
This story invites a response from us.
Our response, like the first disciples, may vary:
we’ll either believe or we don’t.
And if our response is faith, then we trust that this saving faith –
itself a gift from God – will bring us to just the right place:
an eternal home in the loving arms
of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
Alleluia, Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia!