“You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” This evening (Yesterday evening at the Easter Vigil) three people died. They died to this world. They are alive now in Christ. Many people will not notice. When our newly-baptized sisters and brothers go to work next week, when they go to school on Monday they will look the same, walk the same, talk with the same southern Indiana accent. But they are new people in Christ and who they are is hidden in Christ. Some people will suspect that something has happened in them. Those who see with the eyes of the twice-born will notice that there is a new gentleness in their words, a new purposefulness in their everyday actions. “You’re different,” some people will say to them.
Thomas Merton, priest and Trappist monk of Gethsemane Abbey in Kentucky, spoke about this life given to us in Holy Baptism and that is hidden in the Risen Christ:
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. . . .
This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being (human), a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.
Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. . . But this cannot be seen, only believed and ‘understood’ by a peculiar gift.”? Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
“You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” “’Concealment’ – hiddenness – marks the loyal lives of Christians,“ writes Father Pat Reardon, an Orthodox priest and pastor. Christians do not advertise; they subvert. If Easter is about anything it is about a world-changing, but concealed, Love that is secretly on the loose in the lives of men, women, and children who have decided that their life does not belong to them anymore. They do not advertise that they have died and risen with Christ; they simply go about their daily tasks with one eye on heaven. “Since you have been brought to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand,” wrote St. Paul to the new Christians of Colossae.
Folks who are living their baptism in the Risen Christ see themselves and others, as Fr. Tom Merton said, for who we really are, members of the human race in which God himself took flesh and dwelt among us. That changes everything! The resurrection of Jesus and all that it promises, which we carry like treasure in the clay pot of our ordinary lives changes everything! “See how they love one another,” was the initial response to the Christian community. We “carry about in (our) lives, amid circumstances however humble, the only force available to (humanity) for the redemption and transformation of its history. On this earth, the treasure of God is veiled and borne about in earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7).” We are a bunch of crackpots carrying within us the power of Christ’s Resurrection.
On this Easter Sunday we were splashed again with life-giving water from the baptismal font. Cold water, a wake-up call reminding us that Christ is alive and walking around inside us, his sisters and brothers. We are the pinch of yeast hidden in the loaf; we are the seed that falls to earth and dies to yield a hundred-fold. We are all walking around shining like the sun. And it is all because of Him! Cristos aneste! Alethos aneste! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!