The angel said to the women he was not there, where they were looking for him, because he was risen. After death we know him no longer after the manner of the flesh – which includes the manner of the imagination. Like meditation, he is not what we think. Like the kingdom , not here, not there.
Then the angel told them that he was going before them to Galilee where they would see him. “Now I have told you”, he concludes matter-of-factly. There is no explanation, simply the proclamation. Job done. How could this be made readily understood or explained satisfactorily?
The job is to communicate it and hope. If it’s not true, after having seen the possibility and heard the proclamation, everything is drained of colour and energy.
The stakes of the human condition have suddenly increased dramatically.
Strangely, we can’t say exactly what it is the early Christians were communicating and that has formed a continuous chain of transmission since. It was an experience that could not be held in thought or imagination or in the senses, of his being present, in a way that touched and changed them indubitably, not as a memory or an archetype but as a personal presence.
How do we explain any of the most important occurrences in our life?
The women turn back, to do all they could do in the circumstances – speak about it to others. Then there he is. Coming towards them to meet them. Didn’t the angel say he would see them in Galilee? They aren’t in Galilee. Why he is here when they were supposed to see him there? Is he there too?
In seeing him they begin to see that they were in his mind despite (or because) of all he had been through. Death, the great oblivion, had not made him forget them. They must be worth more than they thought. He must be more than they imagined.
Do not be afraid, he tells them. It is fear that shrivels the mind and makes us incapable of the expansion needed to see him and to realise that we can live now in a quite different and fearless way. (Even the angel had told them not to be afraid). Perhaps we are more afraid than we acknowledge even to ourselves.
He too gives no explanation just the experience in itself, of hmself. It leads to an action, a new priority in life, that defines the life of his friends and disciples henceforth – to share this life-changing news with others.
Alleuia, he is risen indeed. Job done. A new creation. Where do we go from here?
Laurence Freeman OSB