Every Easter morning, I find myself relieved that it was Mary Magdalene, and not me, who was the first one at the empty tomb. She had what it took: a profound faith in what she saw but did not yet understand and a willingness to proclaim the Resurrection without confirmation or analysis. Those are admirable qualities, but they are not mine.
I identify with the disciples. In the reading from Luke appointed for Easter evening, they are, as usual, confused and slow to grasp the situation. In fact, two of them are actually walking the wrong way–toward Emmaus, that is, away from Jerusalem and the empty tomb. They know that something momentous has occurred, but they don’t yet know what to make of it. They are grasping about for some kind of common understanding, but even when Jesus is standing right in front of them, they still don’t see him clearly enough to believe. You can hear the exasperation in Jesus’ voice when he finally reveals himself to them, saying, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!”
Friends, I believe that right now in our region, we are on the road to Emmaus together. We are walking together in a new reality. We know that big things have happened, but we don’t yet understand them fully, and we are still figuring out–together–how we should respond. The one thing we do know is that our lives will never be the same. And that can be disconcerting.
But we have one big advantage over the disciples. We already know that Christ is walking with us. That doesn’t mean that we, like the disciples, will not be confused and uncertain. It does not mean that we can avoid suffering and death. But we know that our path winds on toward sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life. Whatever awaits us, we know we will see the risen Lord.
I give thanks to for the opportunity to take this journey with you. Happy Easter.
The Rt. Rev. Sean W. Rowe
Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania
Bishop Provisional of Western New York
Photo: On the Road to Emmaus, Duccio, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena