He is Risen! And yet… Homily for Easter Sunday
Eugène Burnand (30 August 1850 – 4 February 1921) was a Swiss painter and illustrator. He lived in Moudon, Switzerland. He was a very prolific artist, Yet, for the most part, he is relatively unknown.
One exception is relevant to Easter. Burnand painted a work that is located in a central Parisian museum that was once a railway station. It has a rather cumbersome title:
“The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulcher on the Morning of the Resurrection.”
The painting is of Saint John and Saint Peter. The two are running to the tomb of Jesus Christ. The painting exudes motion. The wind blowing back their hair shows that they are running quickly. They have just received a message that the tomb is empty. What is specially striking are the facial expressions of Peter and John. John’s hands are clasped. His face is a mixture of emotions. He seems to be thinking. “Can it be true? Is the tomb really empty? Is it possible that he has risen?”
Peter’s expression is different. His eyes are “deer-in-the-headlights” wide open. He has a look that seems to be a combination of worry, anger, fear, confusion.
What is interesting about today’s Gospel is that the story is not finished. Easter is not a celebration that can be contained in chronological time. The celebration of “Easter Sunday “actually goes for more than a week. We will celebrate the same “Easter Sunday Liturgy” on Monday through Saturday. It is the feast day of seven days.
Over the course of the next several weeks, we will celebrate the rest of the Easter story of Jesus Christ. This is especially poignant in our lives now. People are looking for hope. People are being told that the situation is getting better. Still, many find themselves in dire situations right now. A message of hope seems difficult to accept.
But the message of the other Gospels is one of a new situation. It is a situation that is unexpected. As one Catholic author wrote, “It is good things that happen when you least expect them. It is a new life that is about to emerge but there is still uncertainty because it is a mystery beyond for human comprehension or control.” Hopeful people are those who live in a way that makes no sense – unless God exists.
We need to be the people that make the miracles happen. We are being called to be people of actions and words. We suddenly show up with a kind word or a charitable gesture to people who didn’t expect it- but so desperately need it. Like the rising dawn of the Resurrection, we are now called to be the Resurrection people of light and of hope.