Two men are running in the early hours of a Sunday morning. They are not stressed bankers of the City trying to give some activity to their bodies by jogging uphill and downhill on one of the numerous and so pleasant paths of our lovely Island. Nevertheless these two also are full of stress, or rather anxiety. Theirs is not the stress of a coming burnout, but the anxiety of love. He, the Master, their beloved Rabbi, the revered Friend with whom they have spent three incredible and unique years; He, the Crucified, whose body was laid down in the quiet of the tomb two days ago; He, who meant everything for them and is now dead; He has disappeared, or rather, his body is no more to be found.
They run in love and anxiety, with a bit of bad conscience also. A woman went very early, before them, to the tomb. She discovered what they should have discovered first. After all, they were men in charge and bearing responsibility, especially Peter who had always been the leader of the small team accompanying Jesus; and John too, who had been chosen together with Peter and James to be the witness of very special moments in the life of Jesus. But a woman had been at the tomb first, because she loved more. And it was right that it be so. Jesus had always privileged love. He had always shown love as the surest way to keep communion with him, to be with him wherever he was, to abide in him. Love first had found the tomb opened and the stone taken away from it. Love first had faced the mystery of the empty tomb. And love had run to Peter and the disciples, and had taken them into the great race of love of those searching for the Beloved. On this Sunday morning, the very first of all Sundays, it was not possible to have a lie-in. Everybody had to be up and to run. Everybody had to love.
They run together full of love, but the “other disciple”, John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, outruns Peter and reaches the tomb first. Loves always run quicker. It is not a question of strength or fitness, it is a question of hope. Love hopes more. Love always expects a solution. Love trusts the Beloved one and remains open to the surprises of love. With love, you never know, you never hold, you never possess; you are possessed, you are held, you are known. With Jesus’ love, all is possible, even after death. He runs quicker, he who hopes more, he who trusts more. In the memory of his heart so many words of Jesus, so many of his signs, but also so many words of the Scripture begin to come together, to run in the direction of the empty tomb in which Jesus was laid.
And now, here they are. Simon Peter enters and sees. The other disciple goes in after him, he sees and he believes. Both enter and both see. They do not imagine. They do not speculate. They see with their eyes, they touch with their hands, they gather information, they investigate carefully. The body is no more where it was. Something has happened. The tomb is empty. They are faithful witnesses of this historical fact.
When love and hope see the empty tomb, they give birth to faith: “He saw and believed”. Faith goes from fact to sign, and from sign to reality. Absence is sign of presence. Obviously not the presence of a dead body; nor the presence the deceased one had before his death; but a new presence which has just begun. Faith seizes this presence. Faith holds the Risen One, faith possesses him, knows him. The Resurrection is the door into the new world which Jesus has entered. Faith follows Jesus and enters with him. From what can be seen – the empty tomb, the cloths in their right place – faith goes to what is not seen. From absence, faith makes its way to the new presence. Faith runs full of love and hope towards the Present One, He who is simply and absolutely Present: not here or there, not at Jerusalem or on Mount Garizim, but “in Spirit and in Truth”, in the fullness of his divine Presence, in all places, in all times, here with us this morning at Quarr, in your heart, in my heart. Faith goes from the tomb to the heart. Loving and hoping faith runs to the heart, runs towards Jesus, Heart of the world of the resurrection, the world transfigured in the loving Mercy of the Father, Jesus, the Heart of my heart.
Our two men are now walking quietly back. They do not need to say much. They are not alone. Someone dwells in their hearts. Together with him, they shall soon begin a long journey. They shall run with him towards the extremities of the world and till the end of the ages. They will announce his name, proclaim his resurrection, celebrate his presence, and wait with a longing hope full of love for his second coming. They are the Church: two men, or rather many more, many men and women, all of us, running on a Sunday morning towards the Father, with in our hearts the burning joy of Easter.