EASTER AND STAR TREK
A week ago last Saturday, two very important things happened on the new Star Trek series : Voyager. When two ugly but very scientifically advanced life-forms were beamed up and arrested, Captain Janeway was ready to kill one of them in order to recover the lungs which they stole from one of her crew members – Neelex and had used in a transplant operation. But she discovered that these life-forms were being driven to extinction, because of some virus which was destroying their organs. So what did Captain Janeway do? She decided to let him live and go. I don”t know what she was going to do with the dying crew member, who was being kept alive on a life-support system. The story never said. The second clip was about a crew whose lungs were stolen, thus he was on the verge of certain death. He was prepared to die, but didn”t because a woman offered to give one of her lungs to save his life. The story never made it clear but she had some special attachment to this particular crew member.
What did I get from those stories? Compassion and love win at the end of the day. Despair and hopelessness do not say the last word. We don”t know how it works, but love leads us to go beyond what looks like the end of all possibilities.
Mary Magdalene loved Jesus dearly. The Bible makes it quite clear that for Mary, Jesus was her life. So when he died on the cross, her life was also gone. She was in despair. Nothing mattered any more, there was no hope. Anyone who lost a loved one knows this. When my father died suddenly when he was 50 and I was in early twenties, I thought that the whole world came to an end. It simply was not possible to think of any future without him. Death in this case was more than physical end of brain or heart activity, and the beginning of the process of decomposition of our physical bodies. Death here means an absolute hopelessness.
So Mary was sitting outside of the cave where the body of Jesus had been brought in, and crying. What else was there to do, there was nothing in her life any longer. She asked two men to come, hoping that they would do something to recover the remains of her beloved teacher. But they went away as though they could solve the emptiness in their lives by being busy. We men often do that. But Mary stayed by the empty grave. What was she hoping by doing that? Nothing. She had no other thing to do, because life was impossible without him.
And he came, Jesus. She saw him. But she thought that he was a gardener. A person without any hope can not see what really is. She looked at him, and they even exchanged a few words. But she could not recognize the man in front of her as the dead beloved teacher, who came back to life. Despair inhibits the ability to see reality. Then he called her name. A very personal way to remind her of the nature of their relationship. And at last she recognized him. We parents all know that there is some unexplainable but special quality in the way your child calls you. My daughter is a grown woman. But she still calls me, "Daddy". Maybe its childish. But every time any body calls his or her father "daddy", I always have hard time controlling my tears.
There was no more despair. He was alive. How? We don”t know. We may never know how Jesus came to life again. I don”t think it matters. The main thing is that for those who loved him and owed their lives to him, they saw him and believed that the evil did not have the last word on their beloved teacher. He is risen, and lives among us.
It was obvious that Jesus came back from the dead beyond what we normally understand as physical realities. Perhaps, He came back in a spiritual form. So he walked through doors without opening them, appeared in many places at the same time. But you can not dismiss it, simply because it can not be proven scientifically, or does not fit our normal definition of what”s possible. That”s nonsense. The problem of today”s world is that many believe that spiritual world is less real than the scientifically provable world of facts. I believe that our society is sick because people dismiss the spiritual world less important than the world of science. We dismiss affection, love, beauty, joy and despair, goodness and evil as less than real. We must realize that this kind of common sense is the core of our problem.
But because Jesus loved each one of them, he came back and showed his love in a very personal way. For Mary it was calling her name. For a scientist like Thomas, he offered a physical proof. Thomas is a very modern man. He doubted everything, until it was proven with undisputable evidence. So Jesus said to Thomas, "Touch me, if you don”t believe me". For other disciples, that was not necessary. They sensed he was alive and this alone gave them new hope. Why should anybody need further proof? If you have to keep on giving expensive gifts to prove your love, love in that relationship is dead. True love does not need proof, it only needs to be expressed. So Jesus was sorry that Thomas needed proof. Jesus said, "Happy is the person who can believe without seeing and touching." But because Jesus loved each one of them in uniqueness and in their idiosyncrasies, he offered Thomas proof of this victory of love.
Mary saw risen Jesus beyond despair. Thomas saw Jesus which should have been impossible according to common sense. Star Trek may seem like a long way from the Easter story. But in both cases, Easter and Star Trek, we come to the same essential truth. Love leads us to go beyond what looks like the end of all possibilities.
Christ is risen! Hallelujah!