Who will roll away the stone for us?
ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES CHRISTIAN COUNCIL
2017 Easter Message
In the following text, âstoneâ is used metaphorically as an obstacle to integral human development, and âthe rolling away of the stoneâ as a freeing, liberating and life-giving experience.
Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb? (Mk 16:3) Who willâ¦? Perhaps an expression of helplessness, powerlessness, admission of inability? Who willâ¦? Yet are these not the conditions of possibility? There will be a response. The stone will be rolled away.
The concern of the three women going to the tomb early on the first day of the week, in first century Palestine, is relevant for our contemporary social context and particularly illuminating when used as an interpretive key for all that is happening globally (e.g. refugees, migrant populations and the closing of borders), regionally (e.g. the Haitian humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of hurricane Matthew: families living in a cave and eating poisonous plants!!! The commodification of the body, trafficking in persons and human body parts) and locally (e.g. increase of violence and criminal activity, the proliferation of gangs and gang warfare, the state of the economy and its effects on the poor and the vulnerable, rising unemployment, inadequate delivery of health care, pornography as entertainment!!!). Faced with such obstacles, and seeming insurmountables and impenetrables, parents, teachers, religious leaders, social workers, health care givers, law enforcement officers, politicians, economists, farmers, fisher folk, technocrats, business persons, and leaders from all walks of life pose, and attempt to address the troubling question of âwho will roll away the stoneâ. Used as a metaphor for âobstacleâ, âbarrierâ, âimpedimentâ, âstumbling blockâ and âobstructionâ, and especially in the psychological, moral and spiritual senses, the expression âstoneâ and the experience of ârolling away the stoneâ offer much for thought and reflection. So, for example, fear of the unknown can prevent a person from taking risks. A tendency to compromise can weaken oneâs integrity. Thomas was fixated on physical encounter; Peter often put his foot in his mouth (cf. Matt 16:13-23, esp. v23); and Saulâs zeal was misdirected. For the man or woman of faith, however, the answer to the problem of âwho will roll away the stoneâ is known. God anticipates all human efforts! He removes obstacles; He rolls away stones.
As we celebrate Easter, this year, after the Christian Lenten regime of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and penance, with a view towards repentance and deeper personal conversion, believers and non-believers alike are invited to hear a familiar Easter message that God, in Christ Jesus, has overcome the grave, death and every form of dehumanization and decadence. On the first Easter, the divine intervened and rolled away the stone (Mk 16:4-5) from the tomb in which the Son of Man-Son of God was laid. He who said âI am the resurrection and the lifeâ (Jn 11:25), âI am the Way, the Truth and the Lifeâ (Jn 14:6), and âI have come that you may have life and have it to the fullâ (Jn 10:10b), emerged from the tomb not dead, but alive. Every impassable was rendered passable, barriers removable and obstacles surmountable; for indeed, ânothing is impossible to Godâ (cf. Lk 1:37). Through his passion, death and resurrection (the paschal mystery), Jesus Christ proved that the most conclusive of obstacles could be removed. In rising, he offered all humanity fresh hope; life anew â life in abundance.
The themes of hope and life reflected in our worship at Easter and in our daily attempts to roll away stones are anticipated, also, in nature and culture as the poui and the lily brighten up the surroundings, and as kites rise and soar, drawing attention to the Risen Christ. Indeed, it can be said that at Easter all of creation sing new songs of joy with correspondences in the various Christian assemblies, as believers raise their voices in praise of the Risen Lord. He rose from the grave. He is not dead; He is alive. Halleluia!
The SVGCC reaffirms its belief in the resurrection, this central mystery of our salvation, and wishes every believer the fresh hope it inspires. Furthermore, it encourages the faith of both the individual and the community, and exhorts that stones can be rolled away, whatever their size, make-up or pedigree. Finally, like St Paul, we, too, hold and confess that âif Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without substance, and so is your faithâ (1 Cor 15:14).