1 Corinthians 15:1-11
From last Sunday to this, we have lived in fear. Oh, perhaps not we in our everyday lives, but in our Gospel lives. When we read the story of the betrayal, trial, passion and death of Jesus , we read about fear: fear about what the “authorities” could do to us, to Jesus; fear for our lives. One by one, the disciples ran away from Jesus in fear. One by one, and then all of them ran. All of them except a small group of women disciples who stayed to watch Jesus die on the cross. And then, when the body was taken down and put into the tomb, even those women left. But death is like that: eventually, the body has to be left by itself, alone in death.
Even with the dawn of the new day, the fear does not end. Things are not right in the graveyard. When the women come to take care of the body, everything is awry. All of them, except one, run away again, frightened and terrified, again.
It is the weeping Mary who first realizes that the terrifying news is good. Mary who sees that it is Jesus standing before her. Mary, who, at the end of the story, leaves Jesus again – but this time as the apostle to the apostles, running, still, no doubt, with some terror, but running with joy to be the first to tell this Good News.
With the resurrection of Jesus, all that is dark and frightful begins to be undone. The last to see Jesus die becomes the first to see him alive. Peter, the disciple turned betrayer, is singled out by Jesus for re-inclusion in the community. Jesus tells them to leave Jerusalem, to return to Galilee, to the place where their movement began – back to their home territory, back to that place far from the center of imperial and Temple power, back to the people who know in their hearts, in their souls and bodies, that this extraordinary Good News begins with them.
One benchmark for evaluating the success of mission – of the church’s mission – is to say, that unless it is Good News for the poor, it is not Good News. And so the Gospel of Mark ends in the place where it began: as Good News for the poor, the marginalized, the outsiders and outcast – as Good News for the people on the fringes of the Empire, Good News for the people not “good enough” for the Temple. Those are the people who get done to them daily what got done to Jesus, and those are the people who understand what it means when one of their brothers, Jesus, gets beaten into that dark and frightening place, and comes out the other side: shining, and clean and whole.
What the brothers and sisters in Galilee now must grapple with – what we have all grappled with over these thousands of years – is to live as though we really believed that resurrection happened. To incorporate that confidence, that grace, that joy, that conviction, into our daily lives. To put all those deaths, great and small, that we encounter, into the context of that great, big resurrection. To remember, even as we slog through a mudfield of “no” after “no”, that what really gives meaning to our lives is a resounding “yes.” Yes, to possibility; yes, to love; yes, to abundance; yes, indeed, today and every day, to life.
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.