“And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.” – Mt. 28:9
After more than 40 days of Lent, we can finally proclaim at Mass, “Alleluia, alleluia.”
Yet, it’s not easy to show that expression of praise, joy, or thanks. Like the Mary Magdalene and the other Mary who visited the tomb of their beloved Jesus, we are marked by sadness and grief. Like them, we bear our wounded humanity, bombarded by violence. Think chemical bombing in Syria or our American military response, the killing in Stockholm, the bombing of Coptic churches in Egypt, or the grave famine in South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia. Closer to home, a litany of social injustices and discontent seem to prevail: immigrants deprived of family, home, and country; human trafficking and polarized polemics in public debate crucify human dignity and common dialogue. Looking within, selfish tendencies and fearful habits loom large. Given these realities, even broken hallelujahs (like Leonard Cohen’s song) seem to be a stretch.
Unexpectedly, something happened to me during the Liturgy of Good Friday. While I was fighting yawns and many inner noises, a quiet shift happened. I was looking at everyone in line, one by one, bowing to kiss the cross as well as opening hands and hearts to receive the Eucharist during Communion. Despite their differences – the old and young, strong and weak, religious and only spiritual, light and dark skin tones – everyone became intricately connected as one. The realization was not a “great earthquake” as described in today’s Gospel. Rather, it was a simple clarity, a steady solidarity, a gentle peace, a quiet communion. We were just on our way to show reverence and to receive. Somehow, grace met us, like the risen Jesus meeting the two women “on their way.” Somehow, I encountered the Living One. A silent alleluia visited me, just enough to shift me into gratitude.
I am grateful that Easter is a season lasting 50 days. We are given more opportunities for the gentle alleluias to visit us, as we are, on our way to kiss the Crucified One in others, to seek solidarity and communion with those marked by diminished hope and eclipsed love.
Jesus, to whom do you send me to spread the joy of your nearness and mercy? May I be surprised by your gentle alleluias on the way.
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