“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” These are the first frantic words of Mary Magdalene on the morning of Easter Sunday. She had seen Jesus nailed to the cross for three hours. She had watched him die on Good Friday. She watched as they buried him, sealed the tomb, and set a guard of Roman soldiers. When she and other women came back early Sunday morning, the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty.
Where is Jesus?It is a question we have probably asked ourselves many times. When we read on the news that yet another group of Christians was kidnapped and murdered by extremists: Where is he? When you get the word that the cancer is back, despite all your prayers: Where is he? When you find yourself again trapped in patterns of sin, addiction, mental illness or abuse: Where is he? When you cannot find the resources you desperately need to provide adequate food, clothing, and safety to the ones you love: Where is he? When you hit your knees again in prayer, and no one seems to answer: Where is he?
Mary runs to find the disciples, the disciples run looking for Jesus, Mary runs back again. They search desperately, everywhere. And then, all of a sudden, there he is: right behind her, in the room where they are talking, on the road as they are walking. He is with them. And as they gather to pray and eat and drink together, there He is in their midst. Christ is Risen! He is truly Risen!
The Bible tells us exactly where we can find Jesus. We can find him behind us when we are weeping, on the road when we are journeying, and most of all, in the community that is praying. Every Sunday this same community of believers gathers to share the life of Jesus and remember what he taught us. Then we bring forth bread and wine and repeat the prayers he gave us. And just like that, even if the doors be locked, Christ is present in our midst at Mass. The Eucharist is His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. The real Jesus, whole and entire and risen from the dead, comes to be with you in Holy Communion.
Do we seek him desperately like Mary and Peter and John did? Whoever seeks will find. God will grant that he be visible, not to all but to us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. As we see Jesus in the Eucharist, we begin to see him everywhere: In the joy of a child, the suffering of an elderly person, a song on the radio, a kind word from a friend. Jesus has never left us. We have nothing to fear, not even death itself. He has suffered with us and for us. Jesus turns our sadness to joy. He turns our mourning into dancing. The light of His love means that we never face illness alone. “All things work together for good”, and we can praise Him and thank Him at every moment, every day. Seek Him with all your heart and the Risen Jesus will come to meet you. Happy Easter!
~Fr. Joel Sember