The Tomb Is Empty

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by Gregory Gebbia, OFM

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Indeed, he is truly risen! This wonder-filled Easter exchange crystalizes the Easter message. Easter is the death of death. Darkness is no more. Hope can forever sing. The pulse throughout the universe is that life wins, love conquers, the tomb is empty.

The mistake that too many make these days is that they think Easter is only about Jesus. Perhaps that is the root cause of so much anger, cynicism and meaninglessness. A pall has been draped over the joy of living.

An ever-creeping sentiment has crucified well-being and Jesus has been placed beyond us. Instead of Jesus being the center of our communities, he increasingly has been placed outside of them.

Too many have lost the understanding that God is closer to us than we are to ourselves. Too many no longer believe that God is the one in whom we live and move and have our very being. Far too many no longer comprehend that God is the one on whom our hearts depend.

No longer do we hear the Jesus story with wonderment, because we no longer believe that what we proclaim about Jesus is also saying much about ourselves. The result? Our fervor for Jesus has waned, and our desire for the everlasting has surrendered to a satisfaction that is only immediate.  Yet, the tomb is empty!

A richer, livelier, more dynamic appreciation of Easter is that it is about you and me, and it is about all of us. To lose this understanding is to miss the greatest proclamation of all time. No matter what, all shall be well. We now know how history ends. We now see how the arc of the universe will ultimately bend. God really will have the last word, even in the face of death. The tomb is empty!

Art, particularly Christian icons, provide windows for us to become part of the mystery of faith. There is an important truth of the Easter message that they can help us retrieve. As Franciscan friar Richard Rohr has preached: Roman Catholic and Protestant western Christian art seldom includes humanity in the Easter event.

Jesus rolls away the stone and it is a ta-dah moment. The icons of eastern Christianity, on the other hand, have the resurrected Jesus among the crowds. These sacred windows reveal that all humanity will be redeemed. All of us will be lifted up. The tomb is empty!

Humanity needs Easter. We need to hope that every tear shall be wiped away. We need to celebrate that life has changed and not ended. The tomb is empty for Jesus, and for us!