I am with you still

Published on 09 Apr 2020

I have risen and I am with you still [1].   

Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and is with us.  He continues his mission to bring us to the Father.  The resurrection leads us to God.   The stone was rolled away and the way, the truth and the life emerged.  The grave-clothes were abandoned and there was a clothing in glory.  Jesus, glorified, is present to us, guiding us towards the eternal life which he has inaugurated. His triumph over sin and death he shares with us in himself.  Christ, the undefiled, hath sinners to his Father reconciled  [2].

The risen Jesus is with us still.  In the worst of times, at the most difficult moments, his presence consoles and sustains us. Death with life contended, combat strangely ended [3].  At a time when death stalks the land, we allow ourselves to be reminded that Christ has triumphed over death and shares his victory with his brothers and sisters.  To die with him is to live forever with him. When Christ is revealed, - and he is your life - you too will be revealed in all your glory with him [4].  When many are dying, when anxiety is acute and when restrictions abound, Jesus, risen from the dead, asserts his own freedom and calls everyone to the same liberation.

Resurrection joy can catch us unprepared when we are busy mourning the dead, caring for the sick and working hard to keep everyone else in good health.  Our efforts to fend-off death are encouraged by our faith that it has been definitively defeated.  Jesus Christ, at the forefront of the fight for life, has, by dying and rising, overcome sin and death.  Life’s own champion, slain, yet lives to reign [5].  Our grateful appreciation of those who are in the front line of the struggle to save lives echoes the gratitude of the saviour who guarantees the complete success of that endeavour. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture that he must rise from the dead [6].  In the end, the passion and death of Jesus took on a terrible inevitability.  His enemies were determined to do away with him.  A pandemic has its own inevitabilities.  We do what we can to mitigate and to manage. Worried and distracted, we remember with joy that, despite everything, we are caught up in a struggle at the heart of which is a confrontation with death, which the Lord has already won.

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is sitting at God’s right hand [7].  Such a ‘looking’ is not averting our gaze from grim reality.  Still less is our contemplation of Jesus-with-us some kind of neglect of important duties, such as we might be fulfilling or preparing to fulfil during a world crisis. Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil [8].  This pattern of service of those most in need remains decisive for his followers. Risen, the Lord is till doing good and helping us to do what he has always done, as creator and saviour.  Honouring the Christ resurrected as one very close to us, we are energised for what needs to be done.  This is the work of the Lord, a marvel in our eyes [9]. 

The Risen Jesus is very close, strengthening us. Yet we hesitate to place our complete confidence in him.  He bent down, and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground but did not go in [10].  John had seen enough.  The body of Jesus was not there.  The grave-clothes were strewn discarded.  Mary’s first reaction was right:  ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’, she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him’ [11].  It looked as if a theft had taken place, or a desecration.  We too can be tempted to dwell on what has been taken away rather than what we are given by the One who is right beside us.  At a time of great loss it is natural to be preoccupied with our diminishments.  The redeemer who coaxes us towards a self-sacrifice modelled on his own does not ask us to minimise the weight of the trouble that oppresses us   He suffers with a world which he loves.  He denies neither the suffering of others nor his own.  Even risen, he bears the marks of torment. Nevertheless he asks us to live from now on in the victory which he has won for everyone.  The Lord’s right hand has triumphed, his right hand raised me up [12].

Christ, my hope, has risen; he goes before you into Galilee [13].  Jesus is with us. However he does not merely accompany.  He leads us with authority and in friendship on to the next stage.  His goal is our eternal happiness with the Father. There is still plenty to do before that perfection is achieved for everyone. He has ordered us to proclaim this (the resurrection) to his people and to tell that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead [14].  Our saviour is both judge and advocate.  He submits to judgement with us and in our stead.  We are enabled to accept close and loving scrutiny. With him beside us, we are understood, forgiven and strengthened.  He presents us to his Father as part of his own eternal prayer for justice and mercy. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end [15].

Jesus leads us on to the next part of the journey. You have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God [16].  Much has been endured.  Even those with baptismal faith have been challenged by affliction.  When we were baptised we went into the tomb with him, and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life [17].  We proceed with the confidence of the faith which has been conferred on us.  The Lord is both with us and ahead of us.  Being hidden in God describes our conviction that we have been truly rescued by him.  We are safe from harm now.  Sheltered in the divine, there is a great deal that we do not yet understand. Much is as yet hidden from us deep within the goodness of God. 

It was still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb [18].  This darkness both exhilarates and intimidates those who approach the Easter mystery.   We rejoice that the risen Christ is so close to us.  Yet, quickly, we grow fearful that we are on our own.  Not all are persuaded, and uncertainties trouble us.  Are we among those who have understood?  God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses [19].  The presence of Jesus in the world is sometimes quite hidden.  We try to help each other to reach what is most important. They ran together [20].  We live in a moment of history full of solidarity, compassion and generosity.  Yet some reach the tomb more quickly than others.  People come to faith differently and, sometimes, very obscurely.  He is your life [21]: ‘but first I must take possession of myself.’  The risen Lord is not always easy to recognise.  At the right moment, he reveals himself to us.  From someone who has been in the dark comes the joyful cry from the heart: I saw Christ’s glory as he rose [22].

Homily by Fr Peter Gallagher SJ 

[1]        Roman Missal  Introit, Easter Sunday Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum  Psalm (139) 138.18

[2]        Victimae paschali the Easter Sequence 4-5 Christus innocens Patri/ reconciliavit peccatores.

[3]        ibid. 6-7 mors et vita duello/conflixere mirando

[4]        Colossians 3.4

[5]        Victimae paschali  8-9 dux vitae mortuus/ regnat vivus

[6]        John 20.9

[7]        Colossian 3.1

[8]        Acts 10.38

[9]        Psalm (118) 117.23

[10]       John 20.5

[11]       John 20.2

[12]       Psalm (118) 117.16

[13]       Victimae paschali 16-17  surrexit Christus spes mea: præcedet suos in Galilæam.

[14]       Acts 10.42

[15]       Psalm (118) 117.1

[16]       Colossians 3.3

[17]       Romans 6.4

[18]       John 20.1

[19]       Acts 10.40-41

[20]       John 20.4

[21]       Colossians 3.4

[22]       Victimae paschalis  13 et gloriam vidi resurgentis