ABBOT ELIAS DIETZ, O.C.S.O
Homily – Easter Sunday – April 12, 2020
Easter Day 2020 — Lockdown!
These weeks of a general lockdown fit well with Lent in many ways, Lent
being a time of paring down and looking inward.
Easter is another matter… All of our good and natural instincts get us out at
Easter. It is something to experience together. Only as a church can we hear
and proclaim the Easter message in its fullness.
But here we are with a toned-down Easter, left, to a great extent, to ourselves.
This situation need not spoil Easter for us. Actually, it is an opportunity to be
more sensitive to an aspect of Easter that is too easily lost in joyful
On that first Easter morning, no one was expecting, much less looking for
Jesus risen and alive. The disciples were in a lockdown of their own. The
women went to the tomb, mostly as a way of dealing with their sorrow.
In all the accounts of Jesus making himself known as the risen Lord, he
basically sneaks up on people. He’s there before they realize it, and it takes
time for his presence to sink in.
In John’s account, as we just heard, Mary was aware of someone being there,
but figured it was just the gardener. In Matthew’s account, the two Marys are
on their way to tell the disciples about the empty tomb when Jesus is all of a
sudden there, speaking with them. In Luke’s account, it is as a fellow traveler
that Jesus works his way into the conversation of two downcast disciples,
conversing about the troubling and disappointing events of the previous days.
Perhaps this Easter, more than usual, we can stay home, as it were, and simply
go about out usual business, but with the knowledge and expectation that that
is where the Risen Lord will make himself known.
A key to knowing that he is there is the simultaneous mixture of hope and
forgiveness the disciples experienced when they realized not only that Jesus
was alive but also that he did not hold it against them that they had abandoned
We get a first inkling that the Risen Lord is present when we sense the
possibility of forgiveness: what I have done is not being held against me
forever; what I owe has in fact been written off. More importantly, this
realization gives me a glimpse of the complete freedom that comes with
writing off the debts of anyone owing me anything, the freedom of releasing
others from my anger or judgement. Only the Risen Lord opens up this breach
within us. It is the surest sign of the Resurrection.
So, the world is stuck at home this Easter. But Easter comes to us when we
realize that we aren’t stuck. And we bring Easter into the world when we
allow nothing and no one to remain stuck in our hearts.