On Good Friday night, the Passion Play returned to the streets of Bendigo after many years absence. An estimated 2000 plus people attended, accompanied by burnouts, laughter from an adjoining outdoors cafe, and an intermittent gawking of passing foot traffic. Perhaps, similar to the time of the event in Jerusalem. The majority remained silent. Eyes fixed on the players, an occasional nod of acceptance as the familiar scenes were played out. The silence after the crucifixion was palpable…I felt many were echoing the line from the crowd at the historic occasion, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One”.
The recent torments in many regions of Australia, of fires and more fires, storms, constant rain, and heartbreaking floods have raised a similar refrain in some hearts. “Where is God in all this?” One quick answer, that perhaps it is natural and, as yet, we do not have enough records to guide us. This will not satisfy the generation demanding instant answers.
But God is around and working in his people.
The almost universal condemnation of the war against Ukraine surely signifies a shifting moral conscience of people. Likewise, the outrage of the people of Myanmar and, more recently of the people of Sri Lanka, evokes memories of the battle that Jesus waged on behalf of the average person; most, after all, were not citizens of Rome and, today, too many rulers do not regard their people as citizens.
It is also worth noting that this weekend brings together major memorials for Muslims, Jews, Christians and Sikhs…celebrated with different rituals but all calling their followers to be better people. It is true that this year is not the first time these faiths share the weekend. But I think it is the first time in Australia that leaders of these traditions have stood together. Surely, God at work.
On the journey to such witness, perhaps a word from the scholars may give each of us encouragement to likewise witness.
Our English “to see” does not pick up the nuances of what the original Greek expresses in today’s Gospel.
John stops outside the tomb. He saw the material. The cloths so arranged and pondered.
Peter arrives, goes in. He sees the whole scene and scrutinised the scene. What is going on?
John, less hesitant now, enters and “sees”. Understanding begins to hit home and John departs, with the beginnings of his belief in the risen Jesus.
Too often we need this process to appreciate what God is up to!
May each of us advance in our belief in the gift of the Risen Jesus this Easter; and if you need a break from Easter eggs, Dragons, holiday traffic etc, then perhaps take a little more time in pondering the many occasions Jesus uses the word, “see”.
Happy and Holy Easter.
Christ is risen, he is risen indeed.