It was Easter morning and the church was packed! People seemed somewhat relieved as I gathered those children who had not yet made their First Holy Communion for the dismissal rite. We disappeared into the hall below the church to enter into the Easter Gospel.
I told them about that first Easter morning when Mary went to the tomb while it was still dark, and how she was surprised and amazed to discover that the stone was removed. I explained that she ran to tell Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved (John). I invited volunteers to act out the story and they were excited to do so, especially when Peter and John ran to the tomb. John was running faster than Peter. I explained that Peter went into the tomb and found the burial clothes but Jesus wasn’t there. They saw and they believed! Mary was so happy to be the first to share this good news with her brothers!
Well, of course, we had to act out the story a few more times so that others would have the chance to take part. Now, being a good teacher, I then asked the question: “So children, what happened to Jesus? What happened to Jesus??”
Little Jimmy, a special friend of mine, had followed me downstairs with his dad. Jimmy was three-and-a-half years old, and he raised his hand. So I called on him.
“Do you know, Jimmy? Do you know what happened to Jesus?”
Jimmy shook his head up and down, and then he said, “He waked up! He looked up! And he got out of there!”
“Yes, Jimmy, yes,” I said. Jesus rose from the dead. He was alive! I told them all the church-word for ” hooray” and we said it several times, “Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”
My friend Jimmy deepened my understanding of the resurrection that Easter morning. The disciples’ experience of the empty tomb awakened their consciousness to God’s new presence. Their own emptiness gave them the space to see and believe. In Jimmy’s words, Jesus had awakened. He looked up with hope! His mission was accomplished. And he got out of there so that he could reveal God’s goodness and mercy to all.
“I told them all the church-word for ‘hooray’ and we said it several times, ‘Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!’”
The resurrection of Jesus renews our Hope. We need to wake up to the reality of his tremendous love for us. And we need to get out of our own darkness, rise up from our fears and become living reminders of the presence of God everywhere, as we once again see and believe.
We can, as Jimmy did, speak out freely and share our understanding of a God who invites us to wake up and live gospel values. We must look up with eyes of faith. We must focus on the needs of the poor and marginalized in our world. Finally, we must get out of our comfort zones and risk to live the beatitudes with enduring hope and love.
Thank you, Jimmy, for showing me and for telling all of us what happened to Jesus early that first Easter morning.