I have seen the Lord
With this very simple, direct formulation, Mary Magdalene reports the miracle of the ages to the cowering, defeated disciples of Christ.
She had gone to the tomb; seen it empty and upon emerging saw Jesus, who called to her by name. How fitting that Mary, at best a second-class citizen, is the first to proclaim the miracle of the risen Christ.
She does not say: the Lord spoke to me and I spoke to Him. The gospel simply records: I have seen the Lord. There was no voice in the clouds; no burning bush. Face to face, Mary had seen the Jesus they loved and lost. He who was dead, buried and mourned; was now risen, alive and calling to them.
Mary proclaimed the risen Christ to the disciples, but they remained fearful and disbelieving – until they too had seen the Lord. Later that same day, Jesus came into their locked hideout. Suddenly He was there, showing His wounds, blessing them, calling them to carry on His work, exhorting them: As my Father sent me, even so send I you.
Later came the famous meeting with doubting Thomas. Jesus convinced the doubter of the resurrection by taking Thomas by the hand and thrusting it into His wounds with a message that comes down the centuries to us today: …blessed are they that have not seen and yet believe.
Which is where we come in: 21st Century Christians working out our salvation in a world apparently devoid of miracles. A world that tells us the resurrection is a legend. Jesus is an historical anomaly. Stop looking for him in a post-Christian era.
No less a committed Christian than C.S. Lewis warns us: Seeing is not believing. This is the first thing to get clear…about miracles. His premise is that miracles must be seen through the eyes of faith. And through these eyes we look at this central miracle of faith: our redemption through the sacrificial life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
In the face of doubt and despair, we are blessed to proclaim again: We have seen the Lord.
We have seen the Lord in sick rooms, welcoming the dying home to their Father, consoling the grieving with the gift of faith.
We have seen the Lord at christenings bringing us together to reaffirm our faith and pass the light down through the generations.
We have seen the Lord bringing the personal resurrection of hope and human dignity to the addicted.
And we have seen the Lord this Holy Week at St. Peter’s, bringing brothers and sisters together over the ages to celebrate the miracle of our redemption. By His specific promise He is with us when we gather in His name. That is the power of our faith.
To William James: Faith is the will to believe. But where do we find the will? Too often life has to break us and bring us to our knees before in our desperation we see the Lord. But whatever the route we take, He is there in His shining, risen glory. Not only waiting for us; but rising for us everyday. He is there only a prayer away, if we but open our eyes to see Him.
He is risen in our kindness and patience. He is risen in our forgiveness of injuries. He is risen in charity, truth and justice. What greater joy than to look to our families, our congregation, our daily lives and say: I have seen the Lord.
Faithfully yours in Christ's love,