In recent weeks, I encountered a couple of ancient Rolling Stones – more venerable even than Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
One dates to the first century; the other, to the 3rd or 4th. Both invited reflection. Something began simmering in me…a frothy broth that only fully became something like soup in the past few hours.
The secret ingredient: a dash of Triduum. My favorite time of the year – a liminal time, when the Sacred touches the Mundane in an almost palpable way.
How else to explain the rush of blessing that came over me, when I recalled the first of the two ancient stones?
Excavated in recent years beneath a convent in Nazareth, the stone had been hewn by human hands to cover a tomb. The nuns in the convent believe it’s where St. Joseph was buried…a tomb over which the (now demolished) Church of the Nutrition once stood. A shrine marking the childhood home of Jesus.
Whatever its provenance, it is without question a stone meant for rolling. Designed to be rolled over the stench of death. And exactly the sort of stone that would be rolled back…when death is conquered. When Jesus rose from the grave.
The second stone sits maybe 20 miles away, near the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It, too, is purpose-built…hewn by human hands perhaps around 350 or 400 AD. It served as the baptismal font for the original chapel that stood at Tabgha – believed to be the site of Jesus’ miracle of the loaves and fishes.
Round, but much larger than the tomb-cover in Nazareth, this stone doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon. It would be tough to move. Still, a significant amount of moving happened there…back in this stone’s heyday.
It’s precisely the spot where the Sacred once touched the Mundane. I was reminded of that fact when I sat with the passage we hear during the Easter Vigil – from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans:
Brothers and sisters: Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus…were baptized into his death?
‘Are you unaware?’ Paul asks. And frankly, much of the time, I’d have to answer ‘yes’. All too often I am unaware of the movement that is supposed to occur in me, through the grace of my baptism. I am unaware that something in me was supposed to die in those cleansing waters.
I resist the dying. I resist being buried with Christ…so that new life can spring forth in me.
I resist the grace. And then I wind up spending way too much of my life wondering why “I cain’t get no…sat-iss-fac-tion.”
But every once in a while, I encounter another sort of rolling stone. And my heart splits open…with an unexpected measure of Triduum joy. With Easter joy.
Joy that says, perhaps there’s hope for me yet. For as St. Paul assures us:
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.
Easter blessings to all!
He is Risen! Amen, Alleluia!
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.