Sorry blog readers. With funerals and the flu I have fallen behind on the daily blog. With Holy Week beginning Sunday, the Triduum beginning next Thursday, and then Easter Sunday, what is the Good News about Easter that we want to share with others? Is Easter a life-changing event for believers? For us? What about those who doubt the resurrection, how do we respond to them? For us disciples of the Risen One, Easter does speak about the death of death. If our greatest desire is for life and life in abundance, then death seems like the ultimate contradiction to our desire and the ultimate enemy to our fondest yearning. There is a Russian legend that speaks about the death of death. We might reflect on the legend in preparation for Holy Week and Easter.
Death was born a flaming day with the brilliant colors of a flaming fire. At first death felt like a stranger and wandered lost throughout the earth. Then one day death saw a beautiful bird, so he walked up to it and stretched out his hand to feel the softness of its feathers. No sooner had death’s fingers touched the bird than it fell at death’s feet, cold and lifeless. Death discovered its dreaded power. As the years flowed into eternity, death traveled the earth with the same results as it touched various animals. Then one day death touched a human being and death saw humankind shudder. Humans cried out and became as cold and as still as the first bird that death had touched. On that day, death finally tasted the fullness of his awesome power. But death also knew loneliness to the very last drop.
As death continued to claim all living things, it also experienced a hunger. In its silent kingdom, nothing remained; all living things crumbled and turned to dust at its touch. Death was always left alone. This loneliness grew as death touched creation through many plagues, storms, and floods. Death also learned that humans feared him above all else; humans shrank from his approach. To cope with death, humans invented legends about death trying to pretend that death was incapable of harming them. They even began to imagine a life after death and has legends about this idea.
One day death was sitting at a hill beneath three men hanging on crosses. Suddenly death heard one of the men say, “I thirst.” As death looked up, he saw two eyes from which flowed a warmth and light that death had never seen before. Death heard the man speak several short sentences, and then he was silent. For an instant the man seemed to smile for death alone. Then the man became cold and lifeless.
Death observed the soldiers taking the man down from the cross; the mother weeping for her dead son; and finally the man being placed in a cave. Just before the stone was rolled in front of the cave, death entered in.
What passed between death and the man, no human being will ever know. One thing is certain however. Two days later when some women came to the tomb, it was empty. Death was not there. And since that Sunday morning, all who look upon death with the eyes of faith see it differently. They know that love is life and death is not but the gate to eternal life.