Fourth Sunday after Easter
Fr. David Curry
Christ Church, Windsor, NS
“Because I go to the
There is a
great fearfulness in our own age and culture. It is not just about the
ceaseless spectacle of a world of wars constantly before us in such things
as “international terrorism”, the continuing conflicts in the Middle
East and the atrocities in the Congo. It concerns the emptiness within
the soul of a culture when it can no longer say what it is that is worth
living for, when it can no longer identify the principles and the ideals
that dignify our humanity.
When we can no
longer say what makes life worth living for, and mean something more than
merely the pragmatic hedonism of a materialistic culture, then there is
certainly nothing worth dying for either. There is nothing to give
your life to. There is only the emptiness within, a darkness inside,
out of which comes such frightening and senseless acts of violence, death
and self-destruction that have become a regular feature of our world.
The essence of such acts is their meaninglessness born out of a sense of the
meaninglessness of contemporary life. As the philosopher Peter Kreeft
has noted, the fear for our culture is not the fear of death as it was for
the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome, nor is it the fear of Hell as it
was for the mediaeval cultures - Christian, Jewish and Islamic; no, it is
the fear of meaninglessness itself. There is no objective truth to
which we should conform ourselves and hold ourselves accountable. This
is our fearfulness, the fearfulness we have to confront and overcome.
We confront it
in the Gospels. Jesus confronts our fearfulness. The Gospel of
the Resurrection is especially about his overcoming of our fearfulness.
The message of the angel to the women, coming early to the tomb and finding
it empty, was “be not afraid”. Jesus comes into the midst of
the disciples whether they are huddled behind closed doors in fear or on the
road to Emmaus in flight from Jerusalem in fear.
His presence is
the counter to their fears. The fear of death and the even greater
fear of the empty meaninglessness of life itself is countered by the Risen
Christ. He shows us his hands and his side. He makes visible his
victory over our death and the ways of death chosen in our will to
nothingness. The meaning of death has been changed and we have only to
will what we have been given to see in the witness of the Resurrection.
Of course, we can only do it by the same means as it been accomplished,
namely, by grace.
Resurrection sets us in motion to God and to one another. It makes
life worth living - to know that we have an end in God and that his life in
us is the measure and the truth of our own lives and our freedom. We
can only live for one another when we live to God. At issue is not
simply “what is it right to do” but more importantly “what is it
good to be”. The epistle of St. James’ reminds us: “of his own
will he brought us to birth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind
of first fruits of all his creation”.
Resurrection is new birth, new birth in us, dying to ourselves and living
for God and for one another. Without that we are dead in ourselves,
closed up in the tombs of our souls, paralysed in our fears and unable to
reach out in care and concern for one another.
becomes an empty morality - after all, “the wrath of man worketh not the
righteousness of God” - without this deeper and religious sense of
identity. Throughout the Sundays in Eastertide, Jesus is at pains to counter
our fearfulness by preparing the disciples for the fuller meaning of the
Resurrection. His going from us is the condition of his being with us.
He is preparing them for the radical truth of his Resurrection. It is
this. He is going to the Father.
go to the Father” is the recurring refrain of the Easter season.
Everything is gathered into the motions of the Son’s love for the Father in
the Holy Spirit. The whole life of the Son, eternally and incarnate,
we might say, is toward the Father. By virtue of his death and
resurrection, we have been drawn into the motions of that perfect love.
The Comforter is the Holy Spirit, the bond of love of the Father and the Son
bestowed upon us by the promises of the Father and the Son. All the
comings and goings of our lives find their place and their meaning in the
comings and goings of the Son to the Father through the Holy Spirit.
constitutes a challenge to our world and to us. The world, today’s
Gospel tells us, is “reproved” or convicted of “sin” - that is
to say, for acting as if there is no God (such is our worldliness,
“because ye believe not on me”); “reproved” or convicted of
“righteousness” - meaning that what is right and true is not to be found
simply in our own ambitions and desires but only in the spiritual relation
and identity of the Father and the Son (“because I go to the Father”);
and “reproved” or convicted of “judgment”, because all that
stands against God and his will must be shown to be ultimately empty and
futile (“because the prince of this world is judged”).
of truth”, Jesus says, “will guide you into all truth”.
There is truth and we are to walk in its paths, whether it is through the
tempests of our contemporary world or in some form of service and care for
one another. We only live when we live for God and for one another.
Christ is the counter to all our fears. He is in our midst . He
would not, as he says, “leave [us] comfortless”. He would not
leave us empty but filled, filled with his love. The love that sets us
in motion in lives of service and sacrifice is the love of the Father for
the Son in the bond of the Holy Spirit, the love that is resurrection and
life. Christ has entered into the depths of our humanity in all its
sorry array of suffering and death to bring us into the fullness of his joy
and life. Such is his death and resurrection for us. It is the
ultimate counter to all our fearfulness.
“Because I go to the