We transplanted some Resurrection Lilies last week, just in time for Easter.
Suffice it to say, it’s not going well.
Even today – a week later – the once-proud-and-vigorous fronds kinda have their daubers down. I don’t think the plants are dying, exactly. But neither am I expecting a beautiful floral display anytime soon.
And as I ponder the flowers’ fate, I am struck by how much they actually do teach me something of a lesson about “resurrection” – especially in light of the gospel story we hear on Sunday.
Our “alleluias” were sure energetic and joyful last week, weren’t they? Particularly in a post-pandemic setting: it was a great blessing to be able to celebrate this year’s feast in-person, joining with the (socially-distanced) Body of Christ.
But on another level, our “alleluias” can become problematic. If we proclaim them too glibly, too routinely, we might find ourselves rushing right past the wonder and mystery of the Easter event.
That’s not an issue for the disciples we meet in Sunday’s gospel passage.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst
These folks are not rushing anywhere, are they? In point of fact, they’re pretty much stuck. Locked behind closed doors. Steeped in fear, steeped in sinfulness.
Like a transplanted bulb, new life is available to the disciples – but they’re having none of it…especially not Thomas (our Twin). Not yet anyway. They – and we – all need something to get them unstuck, to get them moving forward again.
And wonder of wonder…into this mess of human fecklessness…mercy rains.
Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst
Notice how Jesus, the Risen Lord, meets the disciples right where they are. His mercy reigns.
That’s very much a part of the Easter story, it seems to me – a part that perhaps can be masked today by our instinctively joyful “Alleluias”.
The disciples don’t suddenly become heroic or successful, just because their Lord has risen from the dead. On the contrary: their fear remains. Even so, the Risen One invites them to experience love in all its fullness. A loving forgiveness that gently releases them from fear and disloyalty…and frees them to become bearers of this same love to others.
It doesn’t necessarily happen all at once. Indeed, it may well take time for our sinful hearts and spirits to get unstuck…to overcome the shock of the transplant. But the Risen One – the one whom Mary Magdalene mistakes for the gardener (John 20:15) – shows us that he is patient and merciful.
He is willing to wait for us to bloom again.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.