Happy Easter, everybody. I love Easter, as you might expect; I love the traditions that surround it, all the flowers and the big Masses, of course, but I love the other stuff as well, the bunnies and eggs and baskets and all. These traditions are fun but fairly staid by international standards. For example, “in Trinidad, a key tradition is creating an effigy of Judas — commonly called a Good Friday bobolee — that is then beaten, kicked, and spat upon by local residents. One of Hungary’s Easter traditions is tied to an old country custom. Historically, young farmhands were allowed to toss a bucket of cold water over girls of a marriageable age, or dip them in a stream. Now, there is much less water (it’s mostly been replaced by cologne), but males still stop by the homes of females to sprinkle them. After the male has performed his role, he is offered cookies, painted eggs, and often alcohol.”1
I’m sure all of this is exactly what Jesus had in mind when He was raised from the dead. It sounds exciting, what with all the kicking and dipping and sprinkling, and these traditions do something for us: they give us something to weave ourselves into, they give us a link to our home.
The disciples were not home on that first Easter morn. Most of the disciples counted a region called Galilee as their home, and even though many of them counted Jerusalem to be their second home, their real home in Galilee was almost 100 miles away, and remember, that’s 100 miles away by foot. To give you an idea, Grand Central Station is 68.8 miles away from here; Stamford, Connecticut is 105 miles. The disciples were far from home.
Jesus was nowhere near His earthly home either, of course. Nazareth by foot is exactly 101 miles from that rocky hill where He died, and if Jesus had made preparation for His own burial at home, in Nazareth, that tomb, that last earthly home, was terribly far away as well. Jesus and His disciples were in Jerusalem with 400,000 other faithful Jews for the Passover, most far from home.
In our time, in this modern world, just finding a home, having that place to weave yourself into, is a monumental challenge. Many if not most families tend to scatter after the kids make a certain age; jobs, or the lack thereof, push us around the country. The institutions that once kept alive those traditions that gave us a home, our schools, our civic organizations, and sadly even our churches, many of them have decided that change is the only way to survive.
We’ve all seen that top-ten list of stressful events, right? Death of a spouse, Divorce, Marriage separation, Jail term, Death of a close relative, Fired from job, Retirement, what do these things have in common? A loss of home, or the feeling of being home.
So now imagine you’re far from home, at a massive annual family reunion for the holidays, staying in the spare rooms of some distant relative, and the Man you’ve been following around for the last three years, the Man you’ve seen heal the sick, cast out demons, the Man you’ve seen walk on water and raise the dead, the Man you’ve come to believe is the Son of the living God, is brutally and publicly slaughtered. Hope, then, is slaughtered; love is slaughtered; if home is where the heart is, you’ve lost your home.
The now homeless Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, Mary the wife of Clopas, St. Joseph’s brother, make their way to that final earthly home of their Lord, to do what tradition demanded, only to find that their Lord had a different idea of where to make His home.
And so here we are, almost 2000 years later, at our massive annual family reunion for the holiday, some of us far from any sense of being home, physically or spiritually. Easter, though, is the perfect time to remember once again that our Lord Jesus had a different idea of where to settle in, where to bring all the peace and all the hope and all the joy and all the life that comes from the Resurrection, and that home is here; Jesus’ home is our church, His home is our hearts; His home is anywhere we do unto others as if we were doing those things unto Him; and His home is at the right hand of His Father who raised Him from the dead, where He went to prepare for us our eternal home.
May this Easter be to all of you a time of coming home. Happy Easter everyone.