In my life I’ve seen the rise of sensationalism, conspiracy theories, and the like in the media. I can’t speculate the degree which the internet has contributed to this spreading of alternative theories. Is the news getting more slanted and the conspiracy theories growing, or have they been there all along and I’m learning to be more attentive to them? I know the latter is true.
Have you ever noticed conspiracy theories in the scriptures? I have. Today is good example. St. Matthew writes, “The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’” Why believe that someone could rise from the dead when the story that the disciples stole his body is far more plausible? And to protect the lie, there is the added component of “hush money”. If this isn’t already twisted enough Matthew says that if the governor hears about it these conspirators will make sure everything is smoothed out. Conspiracies, as we know, are not based on truth. The difficulty is the truth in this story doesn’t make sense in the first century context. It is far too new of an idea. The invitation of the resurrection asks a person to believe the unbelievable. This is so difficult when it goes directly against what we would like to believe with rational thought and our core programming. As previously stated, the conspiracy theory certainly seems more plausible.
Yesterday, Easter Sunday, Christians around the world wished their friends and family an enthusiastic and Happy Easter. But what does that mean? When we share this greeting, are we really wishing another person the incredible joy of the resurrected Christ? Or maybe we are offering the confusion of an empty tomb? Looking specifically at the totality of the liturgical Easter day readings, we have gospels which are empty tomb stories, but there are no appearances of Jesus to people. No one actually has an encounter with the risen Christ. Today, we begin hearing the second phase. This is the first opportunity to hear how Jesus reveals himself and it is to the two Marys. As I read all four gospels Jesus reveals himself to those whom he is closest. He doesn’t go to the religious or civic leaders. These revelations are to people who are seeking for him or confused and can’t seem to put the pieces together. And the resurrected Jesus likes being with his friends. Reread the end of all four gospel accounts and take note of the people to whom Jesus reveals himself. Where do you fit in that list?
Believing the unbelievable, allowing God to surprise you, opening the vulnerable parts of your heart to God, these are some truly incredible resurrection moments. Then our testimony is the truth of Jesus’ resurrection and its impact in our world. And Christian history reveals our testimony in the risen Christ always carries more weight than someone’s untruths.
Fr. David Colhour, C.P. is the local superior of St. Vincent Strambi Community in Chicago, Illinois.