RCL Year C Easter Day
Acts 10:34-43, Psalm 118:1-2 and 14-24, I Corinthians 15:19-26, Saint John 20:1-18
Last Sunday we waved our palms as signs of victory—for the first time in three years. Thursday, we celebrated the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper—for the first time in three years. Friday we proclaimed the Lord’s death and knelt before his cross in thanksgiving for his glorious gift to us—again, for the first time in three years. And today, on the Feast of Feasts for Christians we have gathered together to celebrate the Eucharist of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ for the first time in three years.
If you had told me at any time in my life that we would let three years pass between celebrations of Easter I would have told you that you are crazy. But that is what has happened, as unbelievable as it sounds and seems. In that interval, many things have changed, and many have not. At least liturgically, we are back to normal. May God’s holy Name be praised.
The Gospel today contains something that I would never point out without the three-year interval. Jesus first appears to Mary Magdalene who does not recognize him. She supposes him to be the gardener. Jesus speaks her name, and she recognizes him. Jesus tells her something to tell the disciples. She runs to the disciples and announces, “I have seen the Lord.” She says that and what Jesus told her to tell them. “I have seen the Lord.” The Gospel does not say that she believes Jesus to be raised from the dead. The Gospel does not say that she understands what has happened. She says only that she has seen the Lord. She has seen him without belief and without understanding.
We have seen him, too. We have seen a trace of him, a sign of him, or one of his footprints. And we may not believe, and certainly we cannot understand all there is to understand. I want to say to you that having seen a trace of him and not knowing what it all means is normal. It is not a new normal, but it is the old normal, the pre-pandemic normal. We have seen him, and we are getting to the point where we believe in him. This is perfectly normal.
In the Epistle, we heard that “all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order.” The order of human beings is that we are amphibious. We are natural creatures, and we are supernatural creatures at the same time. We are natural creatures in that we are born, we live, and we die, like all natural creatures. But we are supernatural as well. We are made in the image of God, and we have an immortal soul that will live in Christ beyond the grave: “all will be made alive in Christ,” as you heard.
It is perfectly normal not to understand the resurrection of the Lord. In fact, as human beings, the resurrection is beyond our range of knowledge. It’s not a new normal; it’s the old normal. We see through a glass darkly, as the Apostle says earlier in this Epistle. Understanding the resurrection is above our pay grade. Human limitation prevents us from understanding it.
But having seen a trace of the Lord, having seen a sign of him, we can decide to believe. We can decide we have seen enough to believe. For belief is within our capacity; it is within our range of knowledge. It’s the old normal.
In the Gospel today, before Jesus appears to Mary, Peter and John run to the tomb. John arrives first and looks in to see the burial cloths. Then Peter arrives and goes into the tomb and sees the burial cloths as well. Then John goes in, and “he saw and believed.” John exercises his human capacity to its fullest. He believes. I fear the pandemic has put us behind. If it has, we need to do everything we need to do to return to the old normal, the old normal of seeing and believing.
 Saint John 20:18.
 I Corinthians 15:22b-23a.
 I Corinthians 13:12 (kjv).
 Saint John 20:8.