The past year has been a difficult and even tragic one. And in the midst of the challenges we have faced, many of us have been reflecting on some deeper questions. We wonder about and ponder the questions asked of us. Religion grows out of this distinctively human activity. And good religion will always make space for questions. Good religion does not
overwhelm us with doctrine. Instead it is invitational. So questions are asked, stories are told. We are invited to work it out.
Jesus himself taught by telling stories and asking questions. When people came to him with their questions he invariably responded with another question. He spoke in parables and riddles. He let the images speak for themselves and open up possibilities. He invited people to stop and think. He enabled them to take responsibility for their lives and for finding meaning that alone will satisfy. With those stories ringing in their ears, their images surprising them, they were invited into something wonderfully ‘other’. This frustrated those people who wanted answers and certainty. Questions give us nowhere to hide. When we are asked a question we find ourselves drawn into it.
The Easter season is a time when we are invited to reflect on some of the deepest questions and mysteries of life and death. In the Christian tradition, on the first Easter morning, the Risen Jesus addresses Mary with questions, ‘Why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ Maybe that’s how Easter begins—with a Jesus who challenges what we think is obvious, who seeks to shift our perspective, trying to help us see differently. Enabling us to reflect on what we are truly seeking.
Thomas Merton, that great thinker, mystic and Trappist monk of the twentieth century, said: “If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for”. As we ponder this question we will begin to recognise the twists and turns that we create that keep us from living fully.
An invitation asks us to reflect deeply, to choose how we will respond. In the resurrection, we are invited to reflect on the most profound Mystery which reveals how reality works, all the time, everywhere. As Franciscan priest Richard Rohr suggests, resurrection is not a one-time event that Christians get excited about at Easter. Just as physicists and especially astrophysicists are teaching us: Nothing dies. Everything is transformed. It is a universal, cosmic statement about how reality works. ‘Jesus Christ is the archetype, the corporate personality, the stand in for everything… Christianity was meant to be a cosmic hope for history.’ This is not just hope for Christians, it is the hope for the world, throughout all time. Often, this has little to do with believing the ‘right’ things about God—beyond the fact that God is love itself.
Perhaps that hope is best expressed in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu: ‘Dear Child of God, you are loved with a love that nothing can shake, a love that loved you long before you were created, a love that will be there long after everything has disappeared. You are precious, with a preciousness that is totally quite immeasurable. And God wants you to be like God. Filled with life and goodness and laughter—and joy.’ May you ponder and discover the Mystery of Love for yourself, this Easter and always.