Anyone who has suffered the death of a loved one knows how life-changing it can be. Though we may return to our normal routines after the funeral–even welcoming such a return–our days are ever measured as “before” or “after” the day of death. There is a perpetual awareness of the absence which years only accommodate but never remove. We know what has been lost.
Moments of national or international catastrophe have similar impact. The one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing has Bostonians and others reflecting on what the last year has meant. Even in the face of defiant exclamations of "Boston strong,” changes are undeniable. Resilience, after all, is not the ability to get on with things as though it never happened; it's the tenacity and flexibility to move forward through it all, with it all, to a place of creativity and life that would not have been imagined just a year earlier.
We are now on our way through Holy Week for 2014. It's a week that will culminate in three great days with a Friday of death right in the middle. This death of Jesus of Nazareth has, for Christians, personal and social consequences to be sure, but its ramifications are for the whole of creation.
The death of Jesus occurs on the second day. The first day, Thursday of the Commandment to Love opens our eyes to the pervasive reality of divine love as a response to human sin and betrayal. The second day brings the impact of that sin to its horrific conclusion: the death of an innocent person. Then the third day begins to reveal the wondrous truth that the entrance into death of the One-who-is-the-Word-by-which-all-things-are-made becomes, rather than the moment of that one's annihilation, the occasion for the end of death.
This is the content of our hope of resurrection. It is not the certainty of the sunrise and a new day nor the return to work after a funeral. It is the real prospect of death's undoing in our own bodies. And this, even after it appears that death has done its worst.
His death changes everything forever.
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.