5 stops to experience the Resurrection

There are many opportunities to delve deeply into the Passion, but far fewer to immerse oneself in the Resurrection of Christ. Why not pray with the Rosary of Resurrection? Or take a journey with the 5 stops to deeply experience the encounter with the Risen One? Or perhaps dedicate a week of meditation to each “stop”?

Five centuries ago, St. Ignatius spurred on imaginative prayer, and for those working in the world of cinema and imagery, it’s an open invitation. Each Gospel passage lends itself to a detailed screenplay. And living meditation, by immersing oneself in the Gospel, offers endless inspiration for our daily lives. Reflection on the Resurrection of Christ led me to write “Donne della Risurrezione” (Women of the Resurrection) some years ago; and today, I share “my” Rosary of the Resurrection.

1st stop: “Mary!” – “Rabbouni”

“Mary stood outside the tomb crying” (Cf. John 20:1-18) Mary Magdalene rushes to the tomb “while it was still dark” (John 20:1), wanting to weep before it. To remain in grief, not to escape from it. But the stone has been rolled away, and inside are two angels, no body.  Confusion reigns in Mary Magdalene’s mind, and tears prevent her from seeing and recognising what has happened.

Twilight. The very first light after the darkness of the night. The sky ignites in lavender hues. A voice from behind. “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it that you’re looking for?” She mistakes him for the gardener, thinking he has taken the body away. But, suddenly, she hears her name: “Mary.” She turns and recognises her “Rabbouni,” risen. The name, the voice; she turns, she recognises.

Followed by the mission: “Do not hold on to me … Go instead to my brothers and tell them…” She wastes no time. She runs to say: “I have seen the Lord!” So what can we do today, at this point in history, after recognising the Risen One? What do we announce? Do we feel the same urgency?

2nd stop: on the road to Emmaus

“While they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them” (Cf. Luke 24:13-35). Magdalene, Mary, and the other women have told the disciples they have seen Him – risen, alive. But not everyone believes. Two of them leave Jerusalem, heading towards Emmaus (today one of my favourite places, Abu Gosh, with their world-champion pitta and hummus). Their eyes, too, are filled with emotions and thoughts, unable to recognise Jesus walking with them. It’s not difficult to identify ourselves with the disciples of Emmaus, in our often chaotic lives filled with the futile.

“How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe…” We just don’t want to understand. “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” Jesus enters the horse with them at sunset, takes the bread, breaks it, blesses it. Only at this point do their eyes open and they recognise him! Jesus reveals himself through the bread, as he has done before in life. The broken bread becomes the window onto the resurrection of Christ. Walking alone is not enough to find the answer to the meaning of life. It’s something, better than standing still, but it’s not enough….

3rd stop: “Peace be with you,” the words of the Resurrection

“Peace be with you!” (Cf. John 20:19-23), (Mark 16:14-18), (Luke 24:36-43). The peace of Christ is an unfathomable mystery with the mind, it can only be experienced. Peace is a term often abused, it’s worth stopping to meditate. Letting the “peace” that the Risen Christ gives to the disciples and all of us descend into the depths of our being. I

t is first and foremost peace of heart, that immense gift that keeps us upright in the storm, that allows us to rise after falls, that gives us the courage to face the unknowns of life. The peace that Jesus gives us in the upper room dispels fear, it’s the answer to that: “Why are you troubled?” And what follows is true, authentic joy.

In this historical time, we cannot let go. We must not relegate peace to the garden of dreamers. Peace, starting from our hearts, must radiate to the community and the entire world. Let us not allow the noise of bombs to erase the gift of the peace of the Risen One! Let us believe in possible peace, starting from disarmament and choices of “peace,” pact, agreement, negotiation. Peace is the very essence of life. Let’s choose to always and unconditionally stand on the side of peace.

4th stop: “Unless I see… I will not believe” (Cf. John 20:24-29)

Resurrection goes beyond reason, it cannot be fully understood if not without the Spirit. Thought and science don’t leave much room for life beyond death, for the defeat of death. And Jesus leaves room for doubt, indeed he welcomes doubt and embraces it in mercy. Thomas is not present when Jesus arrives in the dining room the first time, and he does not believe the words of the apostles. He wants to touch. And Jesus returns, precisely to be touched, to invite Thomas to put his finger into his wounds, into the nail holes and the side pierced.

The resurrection of Christ is so real that it has not erased the wounds. The wounds in the risen body are still open, to be touched by Thomas’s hand, and by us with him. And so, when in life we also encounter the Risen One, it’s not that all the pain of the past disappears with a magic wand, no, it remains there. But all the pain takes on a different meaning, and becomes a path to something else.

5th stop: “Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”

“Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” … Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” (Cf. John 21:1-23). Jesus had told the women he would wait for them in Galilee. The first apostles returned there, and Jesus meets them in the same place – the place of the first time, the first love, the first call. It is Peter, disheartened and bewildered, who has returned to fishing and catches nothing for the whole night (Luke 5:1-11).

And at the first light of dawn, as for Mary Magdalene, here he is watching them, on the shore. Once again, the fishermen do not recognise him, blinded by their sense of defeat. He asks for something to eat, they say they have nothing, and he invites them, as the first time, to cast the nets. What meaning can “casting the nets” have in our lives?

And so the nets are filled with 153 large fish and John, followed by Peter and the others, finally recognizes him. On the shore awaits a charcoal fire with fish roasting and bread. And Jesus, much like with the Samaritan at the well with living water, offers them food. And in front of that fire, with bread and fish, each one of us lives their own story with the risen Christ.

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