“Yours is the time!” The hour of Easter
(Easter Vigil, April 8-9, 2023).
In Europe, the time is changed twice a year. But in tropical countries, this does not happen. And this explains the surprise of one novice of our community of Disciples, who comes from a country close to the equator, when the Master of Novices announced that the next day the time would change and that all their clocks would be set back. The novice asked another brother what was that of changing the time, and the other, very seriously, answered that it was part of the vow of obedience. Everything was in the hands of the superior, even the time!
That novice soon learned that obedience did not consist of that. Today, however, someone has the power to change the time. It is Christ, the Risen One, the Living One, the Alpha, and the Omega. When Jesus rises from the tomb, there is not only an earthquake but also a “timequake.” For “his is time and eternity,” as we proclaimed at the blessing of the paschal candle.
For this reason, in the Christian way of indicating the years we do not say only “after Christ”, but Anno Domini, “in the year of the Lord”. Every year is “the year of our Lord”, a year that he governs and directs to its end. Do we open our time to him so he may rule over it, so that even our days and hours may be days and hours of the Lord? Or do we live in parallel times, as in those families that end up dissolving, because each story can be narrated without need of the others? Today’s Gospel shows us how to live in the hour of the Risen Lord.
1. In the first place, in our time there is a tendency to forget. In our eagerness to rush forward, we take our origins for granted. But in this way, we remain divided between the past and the future.
Because of this, Jesus says today in the Gospel: “Go to Galilee.” Galilee symbolizes the time of the beginnings, of the first fresh encounter with Christ, of friendship with Him, of the impulse that led the disciples to leave everything generously… It is there, as St. Peter says, that “the thing began” (Acts 10:37). By appearing in Galilee, Jesus indicates that his risen time returns to the origin and embraces it within itself. His time is, according to the usual image, like a river, but a river that is endlessly renewed from the source, for it comes from the Father. The resurrection does not leave behind the body shaped by the hands of the Maker but culminates the work of the seven days. According to St. Justin Martyr, if the day of the resurrection is called “eighth”, it is because with this day we return to the beginning, to day one.
In the Easter proclamation, we say: “Our birth would have been no gain, if we had not been redeemed.” And the Church Fathers applied the idea to baptism: it is of no use to be born once if you are not born a second time. We can expand this: it would be of no use to you to have been married; it would be of no use to you to have had children; all your work and toil would be of no use; your house, your city, all creation, its beauty, its glory…, would have been no gain if He had not been born, died and risen for you.
Now, this can also be read the other way around. Once Christ is risen, we understand how much everything we were and had is worth. How much your body is worth, if Christ has called it to glory? How much is your birth worth, if it pointed to this definitive birth? And how much is your marriage worth, how much your children, how much your daily work, and your art, and how much your rest, and the whole of creation…, if its destiny is the resurrection. How not to live all this in fullness, if it is so valuable! How not to live it in hope, if it is destined to such a high goal! Such is the time of Jesus when he tells us, “Come to Galilee!”
2. Moreover, secondly, our time is doomed to death and is going downhill until it gets there. According to Benjamin Franklin, there are two things certain in life: death and taxes. Two characters are inevitable: the undertaker and the tax collector. Taxes are the symbol of everything that robs us of life. And today taxes are levied even when we win the lottery as if to tell us: there is even a tax for being happy.
In the face of this, the Risen One proclaims: “It is I, do not be afraid”. That is to say, He communicates to us another certainty, beyond death and taxes. Now the most certain thing is Life, and the inevitable thing is the encounter with Jesus, the Living One.
In recounting the life of a man we usually put two dates that pigeonhole it: birth and death. But since Easter it’s another story: now life begins with the resurrection with Christ, in baptism, and there is no end date. The parenthesis does not have to be closed, because baptism never expires, but inaugurates a continuous birth, from more to more. The writer José Luis Martín Descalzo gave us, shortly before his death, this verse: “Dying is just dying; dying comes to an end.”From Easter onwards, we can complete: “To be born is more to be born. To be born continues” because our history is continually born until the lasting birth of heaven. The time of Christ is measured with a clock in which the sand, instead of falling, rises.
There is a song by Pedro Muñoz Seca, the author of La venganza de Don Mendo, that says: “Virgen de la Macarena, / ponte la cara bonita, / que ya sabemos to’ el mundo / que el domingo resucita” (Virgin of the Macarena, / put on your pretty face, / ‘cause everybody knows / he’ll arise on Sunday). Apart from the grace and hope of the verse, Mary could answer that she also knew this, but that the suffering came to her because she knew she was called to accompany Christ in his new birth as if giving birth to him again. Time does not rise automatically upwards, but rather it raises our freedom, inviting us to rise with Christ.
This is so because the Risen One has given the world a new destiny, towards resurrection, and guides it with us toward that destiny. This is why the Risen One is the new name for God’s providence. St. John knew this well when he recognized him by the lake: “It is the Lord! He understood the greatness to which they were called: the Lord was filling their nets and asking them to gather them up and bring them to the shore. It is something we can say every time the time calls us to grow: “It is the Lord, it is the Risen One!”
The call to the new birth, to the mission that makes us great, is the sign of the presence of the Risen One in history. He is, for example, in every call to forgive our enemy, to marital fidelity in uncertain times, to generosity in transmitting life to children, to the pure love that respects and gives itself, to the unconditional following of Christ in the consecrated life… Every time this happens we can say: “It is the Lord!” who calls us to go up. Therefore, when the priest asks at Mass: “Lift up your hearts,” we respond that they are already lifted up, and we thank God for having raised Jesus, who lifts us. When we are asked how we are, we no longer have to answer, from chronic fatigue: “tired” or “getting along.” Thanks to Easter we are no longer “pulling”, but “rising.”
3. So in the Risen One’s time, memory is preserved and the descent of death is overcome. But the time of Christ is also new because it is full of projects that sustain time. That is why Jesus will tell his Disciples this third word: “Proclaim the Gospel.”
Why do we often find ourselves rushing from one place to another, with no time for anything? Julian Marias answered that this is due to the lack of great personal projects that fill the time and direct it to the goal. We have time for nothing because we have nothing for a time, which prevents us from establishing priorities or giving direction to our time.
This is the opposite of Jesus, precisely because he is alive. For it is characteristic of those who are alive that they have interests, and projects. It is impressive how, since his resurrection, he hardly have time to look back. All our plans for the future are typical of “the Living One” (Rev 1:17). He is interested in everything and passionate about everything. He is interested, for example, that Mary Magdalene calls Him by name, and that Peter is reconciled with Him. He is interested in the two from Emmaus and also in Thomas. And not only does he have interests, but he knows how to arouse the interests of others, as when he incites Peter to ask forgiveness, or when he arouses in those of Emmaus the desire to be invited to supper. With them, he becomes not only the one who meets them but also the “guest”.
Well, to participate in the interests of others, love is necessary. Normally the interests of others are not as real as our interests, that is, they do not touch our flesh so much. Thus, my hunger is more real to me than the hunger of my brother. Now, when I love the brother, it is proper to love that his interest becomes as real to me as his, touching my flesh as well. And this is what happens with Jesus.
Our interests are as real to Him as they are to us. He vibrates with ours. This instills great confidence in us. Your desire for life for your children, or love for your family, or fruit for your work, or health for someone who is sick… all are desires shared with the Living One, who will not let them decay without fighting to the end. A Colombian writer used to say: “The difficult thing is not to believe in God, it is to believe that we matter to Him”. To believe in the Resurrection is to experience that we matter to him with bodily passion, in his resurrected flesh.
But the Resurrection also calls us to make the interests of Jesus as real for us as they are for him. We remember Paul’s complaint: everyone seeks their own interests and not those of Christ Jesus (Phil 2:21). Today we dilate our hearts to make room in Him for his plans for a great life, for He came to bring life and abundance. It is said that Louis XV, seeing the discontent growing among the people against the monarchy, exclaimed: “After me, the flood”. Once dead, nothing mattered to him. Those with children care about the future and no longer say: “After me, it is your turn, my son; I will no longer be here, but I have prepared you”. But Jesus, with his Resurrection, goes further and now says: “After me, the mission”. Or, better yet, as it is a shared mission, He is the protagonist with us: “After me, your mission with me; after me, our mission”.
The Resurrection is real for us if Christ’s projects are real for us, that is, if we make them our own. We can live this project of Christ in marriage: that our family may live up to the love and fruitfulness of Christ. Or in the consecrated life: the project of embracing in the flesh the way of life that Christ chose for himself. Or in the priesthood: the project of personally representing Christ to raise the world with Him to the Father.
Mary was the one who best shared from the beginning the plans of the Risen One. The first apparition of Jesus was undoubtedly to her, not only because Jesus wanted to console her, but also because he wanted to share his work. So Jesus did not devote himself only to consoling Mary, but they spoke of common plans. It was a strategic meeting, to cultivate harmony of hearts. And that is why we see her immediately at Pentecost, awaiting the Spirit, the great promise, and the architect of all the Father’s great projects. Here beats the Mary’s new heart, who lives in the time of Jesus, and therefore will not experience corruption either.
“Go to Galilee! It is I, do not be afraid! Proclaim the Gospel!” In these three phrases is contained the new time of Jesus, the time of the spring that comes from the Father, the time of the birth that overcomes death, time of new projects. And in Mary, we live this time reborn at Easter, which widens our horizon. Anno Domini 2023, “Year of Our Lord”, in Our Lady. “In Mary, Christ! Through Christ, to the Father!”
 Morir solo es morir; morir se acaba.
 The Virgen de la Macarena is a very popular Spanish devotion to the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Hope, in Seville.