“One thing is needful”
Christ is risen. Alleluia, Alleluia! The one thing needful is the proclamation of the Resurrection. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, “early when it was yet dark,” John tells us. She “seeth the stone taken away.” And so it begins. She runs to tell the others, apostle apostolorum, an apostle to the apostles, as the Fathers put it. She says “to Simon Peter and to the other disciple” that “they have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.” He is not there. Who has taken him? Who are ‘they’ that “have taken [him] away”? Confronting something that counters her expectation, she suspects a conspiracy, it seems. Don’t we all? Simon Peter and “that other disciple” run and see. They, too, find only an empty tomb. And so it continues. It is the Resurrection. An intriguing and perhaps interesting idea?
Perhaps we feel the same way that the British travel writer, Alexander Kinglake, felt about seeing churches in England and wanting to inscribe upon their lintels the caveat, “interesting, if true.” Is that where we are with the Resurrection, “interesting, if true”?
If so, why are we here? Because the idea of the Resurrection has a strong hold on us, the hold of truth. It has changed the world, quite literally, one would have to say, and that, at least, is true historically speaking from the standpoint of social, political and cultural developments. The rise and spread of Christianity, its struggles and contests, first, with Jewish and ancient pagan culture, Greek and Roman, then, its conflicts and disputes with Islam, as well as its internal debates and arguments between east and west, Greek and Latin, Catholic and Protestant, and, then, with the rise of modernity and even modern science with all of its ambiguities and uncertainties that comprise our post-modern experience; how could one possibly think to explain any of that story apart from the Resurrection? It is the central defining truth of the Christian Faith, whether one believes it or not. That much can and must be said and cannot be gainsaid whether you are Muslim, Jewish, Christian or atheist in terms of our cultural history. We are here because we cannot not think it, even if our world and culture has forgotten and rejected it.