I recently went to a conference to listen to a couple whose son had been murdered some years back. Barry and Margaret Mizen lost their son Jimmy on the day after his 16th birthday. Barry told of three visits in the days following his son’s murder. One was from a former parish priest. Barry said, ‘He came to our house and he just stood and cried. No pious words. He just stood there and cried with me.’
Another was from a religious Sister. She said: ‘Do you feel a little bit of joy in your heart?’ And Barry said there was a little glimmer of joy. She said: ‘That’s Jimmy. That’s God.’
A Muslim man who lived and worked locally also visited the Mizens. Barry said: ‘We didn’t say anything. We just hugged: two dads sharing their grief.’
It was a story of courage and bravery, brokenness, vulnerability and ultimately of forgiveness and new life. It is a story that is replicated in the lives of millions of people in our own countries – in Syria and Palestine, in Yemen and in Africa – I have to say it's when I hear stories like this, and the visits of people standing together in common humanity, that I know Jesus is alive.
The challenge of Easter for all of us is to ask where our faith lies. Is our faith in the bald facts of the story we’re told about the resurrection of Jesus? Is it in the words of the Bible? Or in the Church who gave us the Bible? Or is our faith in a living Lord who is bigger than Church and Bible, a Lord who is with us and whose presence gives our lives an energy and a dynamism that we wouldn’t have without him?
I came across this from the Canadian oblate priest Ronald Rolheiser: ‘The resurrection of Christ challenges us to new life – to believe, precisely, that there are surprises hidden at the heart of death: that every scream, tear and cry is redeemed, and that God’s laughter is stronger than death. Ultimately, belief in the resurrection asks us to believe that, despite a strong experience to the contrary, reality is gracious, light does triumph over darkness, love over self-interest, justice over oppression, peace over chaos, fulfilment over hunger. Faith in the resurrection is the trust that, in the end, everything is good.’
Let us pray in this Easter season for the courage to look beyond and to believe that God can be trusted, and let us look at what can be, at times, a very troubled, broken world for glimpses of the risen Lord so that our faith in him will not be overcome.