Easter sermon 2020
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12. April 2020 - Krypta des Aloisiuskollegs Bonn-Bad Godesberg
1. We don't know where they put Him.
- It is Easter 2020, and I spontaneously understand Mary Magdalene's concern: "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they put Him”. Mary had suffered the unworthy death of Jesus on the cross with him. Now she wants to give him the dignity of a decent burial. But "we do not know where they have put Him."
- For the first time, this grief seems familiar to me. I have heard it on the news several times in the last days and weeks. People have lost loved ones to the plague "don't know where they put Him." You can't say goodbye. You have no place to mourn. Some know nothing of their loved ones because they die on the way to their villages after the day-labourers have been driven out of the cities of the rich and the borders have been closed to them. The dying is somewhere, the families will never know where, they "don't know where they put it."
- From the luxury suffering of uncertainty and boredom due to the contact ban and curfew, to the mass graves of Bergamo, Madrid and New York, to the anonymous dying among the poor, the real victims of the pandemic - what unites them is this uncertainty even in death.
2. Enduring the grief
- Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved hurry to the tomb. It is irritating that the Gospel emphasizes that everything in the burial chamber seems somehow tidy and orderly. "For they had not yet understand the Scripture," notes the gospel. They see, they believe, but they do not yet understand.
- To understand is that not everything is in order, even if it seems so. The tomb is empty. This is the disorder. According to law and order, the crucified one should have been in the grave. But God breaks the order of the expected with the empty grave. The empty tomb is not yet the encounter with the Risen One, but the emptiness of the place is nevertheless the first Easter message.
- Mary remains at the tomb and mourns. To the angel who asks her, she says once again: "They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have put Him". Perhaps Easter 2020 means sharing and enduring this grief. It is reality countless times.
3. Do not hold me.
- The real Easter experience begins very intimately, very individually, very personally. The two disciples and the church are far away. Mary is alone at the tomb.
- I am in awe of this moment. Twice it is said, "Then she turned..." She turns to the one she does not know. She turns again to the One she recognizes as her beloved Rabbuni, her teacher of life. Whatever has happened here has made of the grieving Mary of Magdala the Apostle Mary, who proclaims to the disciples: "I have seen the Lord!".
- Easter does not promise us an experience that can be captured. No pompous celebration can replace the question to myself who I meet and who my Rabbuni is. And especially for those who recognize and believe in the Risen One, the call is: "Do not hold me fast!”. Here in this world Jesus does not promise the certainty and the hold that Mary had hoped for at the beginning when she came to the tomb. The tomb is empty and even the Risen One can never be held fast in this world. The home is only at the Father, to whom Jesus goes up. But this Gospel nevertheless proclaims, in the uncertainty of the time: I have seen him! I have been given hope! We can celebrate the joy, also and especially today: the Lord is truly risen! Amen.