The Christian way has been one of constant challenge from the beginning. The account in St. Luke’s Gospel, 24:1-10, of the women going to the tomb of Jesus after the Passover to ensure that his body was properly treated with spices tells of their encounter with two men in dazzling robes. The women’s reaction is at first fear. Everything they held dear was being brought into question. “Why seek the living among the dead?” was the challenge relayed to them by these heavenly beings. All the traditional customs to which they were still clinging, their lack of understanding of what Jesus had told them, their inability to make sense out of it all—everything was challenged. No wonder they fell on their faces in fear! The women did nevertheless act on the challenge and went straight to find the others in the community.
Two thousand years later, we also so often “seek the living among the dead.” We cling to what is familiar, the things we were taught as children, practices we have taken on as part of our Christian lives—often never thinking about them in relation to new circumstances in our lives. Our tendency to cling to the familiar is all too typical and can lead to a stultifying of our faith and an unwillingness to venture into new depths of understanding. The world around us is in constant flux and new ideas and situations present themselves without cessation. We tend to stay faithful to what we know; like those women at the tomb we carry our spices to honor the dead. Yet Jesus shocks us out of our comfort zone and challenges us to seek His presence, risen and glorified, and to find Him in the reality of what is happening around us.
The celebration of Easter brings to each of us that same message: “Why seek the living among the dead?” The challenge of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is that we constantly face up to what Jesus is calling us to do—and while He and His love for us never change, the path of discipleship continually opens up new vistas and challenges. We do well to ask “What am I clinging to? What is Jesus calling me to explore? How do I experience resurrection at this moment?” The scriptures often present us with a word that dazzles us as those heavenly beings dazzled the women at the tomb. Let us not miss the moment of challenge but rather be awake and alert to what the resurrected Lord Jesus wants us to see and act on now.