Father Richard shares how we can receive the miracle of new life by embracing our own difficulties and “deaths” as Jesus did.
Death is not only physical dying. Death also means going to the full depths of things, hitting the bottom, going beyond where we’re in control. In that sense, we all go through many deaths in our lives, tipping points when we have to ask, “What am I going to do?” Many people turn bitter, look for someone to blame, and close down. Their “death” is indeed death for them because there is no room for growth after that. But when we go into the full depths and death of anything—even, ironically, the depths of our own sin—we can come out the other side transformed, more alive, more open, more forgiving of ourselves and others. And when we come out the other side, we know that we’ve been led there. We’re not holding on; we’re being held by a larger force, by a larger source that is not our own. That’s what it means to be saved! It means that we’ve walked through the mystery of transformation.
The miracle of it all—if we are to speak of miracles—is that God has found the most ingenious way to transform the human soul. God uses the very thing that would normally destroy us—the tragic, the sorrowful, the painful, the unjust deaths that lead us all to the bottom of our lives—to transform us. There it is, in one sentence. Are we prepared to trust that?
Jesus’ death and resurrection is a statement of how reality works all the time and everywhere. He teaches us that there’s a different way to live with our pain, our sadness, and our suffering. We can say, “Woe is me,” and feel sorry for ourselves, or we can say, “God is even in this.” And that’s what Jesus did on Good Friday.
None of us crosses over this gap from death to new life by our own effort, our own merit, our own purity, or our own perfection. Each of us—from pope to president, from princess to peasant—is carried across by unearned grace. Worthiness is never the ticket, only deep desire. With that desire the tomb is always, finally empty, as Mary Magdalene discovered on Easter morning. Death cannot win. We’re finally indestructible when we recognize that the thing which could destroy us is the very thing that could enlighten us.
Friends, the Easter feast is a reminder to all of us to open our eyes and our ears and to witness what is happening all around us, all the time, everywhere. God’s one and only job description is to turn death into life. That’s what God does with every new springtime, every new life, every new season, every new anything. God is the one who always turns death into life, and no one who trusts in this God will ever be put to shame (Psalm 25:3).
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Reality Moves Toward Resurrection,” homily, March 27, 2016.
Explore Further. . .
- Read monk and teacher Thomas Keating on death and resurrection.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Suzanne Szasz, Window Box at 69th Street (detail), 1973, photograph, New York, public domain, National Archives. Jenna Keiper, Icon at the Center for Action and Contemplation (detail), 2021, photograph, New Mexico, used with permission. Suzanne Szasz, At High Rock Park on Staten Island (detail), 1973, photograph, New York, public domain, National Archives. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States.
This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: We are invited to fully experience resurrection wherever we are. Can you sense it? See it? Smell it? Touch it? It’s all around.
Story from Our Community:
the strength of the human spirit / bears witness to the Holy Spirit, / assuring us that, yes, / death happens – / it will happen to all of us / in the end – / and there will be / smaller and greater deaths / along the way – / but because Christ is risen / his (and our) suffering / is not the end, but only / ‘the end of the beginning.’ / And what a new beginning / we shall see! Alleluia!
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.