Bishop Glen John Provost
Bishop of Lake Charles
April 5, 2015
“They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first.” John 20:4
There is a great deal about running in the Gospel for Easter. On the first Easter Sunday, Mary Magdalen “ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2) to report the empty tomb. When Peter and John heard this news, “They both ran, but the other disciples ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first” (John 20:4). In the Gospel accounts running helps us sense the excitement of everyone who learns of the empty tomb. Running sets the stage for the adrenaline-filled moment of realizing that Jesus has risen from the dead. The body has not been stolen. What Jesus promised has indeed happened. He is risen.
I remember my school days. My involvement in sports was limited but the one that I really liked was track. There was nothing as exhilarating as engaging in a race. The thrill of individual competition, the rapid movement of body, and the focus on a goal were truly something that came and went with youth. No wonder John outruns Peter. Both are curious, but John is a younger man. Running is the sport of youth, but this fact gives us an added insight into what should truly excite us about Easter.
The Resurrection is about youth. It offers the promise of new life. It gives hope. It restores the joy of our youth. The words of St. Paul come to mind when he wrote to the Corinthians, “Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough” (I Corinthians 3:7). For St. Paul the Christian is running a race. He will return to this theme with the Corinthians when he later writes, “Run so as to win” (I Corinthians 9:24). The true athlete does not exercise, train and discipline himself because he wants to lose. If he did, he would be running “aimlessly” or “shadowboxing” (I Corinthians 9:26). The true runner knows that “all run in the race, but only one wins the prize” (I Corinthians 9:24). Do we realize this?
Easter restores our youth. Without Easter we never reach the finish line. “[I]f Christ has not been raised,” St. Paul tells us, “your faith is vain; you are still in your sins” (I Corinthians 15:17). “But now Christ has been raised from the dead” (I Corinthians 15:20) (8). In rising, Christ has destroyed death. We have nothing to fear. The enemy that filled the old man with fear has been defeated so that new man can rouse himself to win the race. The victory that belongs to Christ can be ours.
All of the running that we read about in the Gospel accounts makes perfect sense. Something truly great has happened. We talk about moments in history after which nothing is ever the same again, but the Resurrection stands at the pinnacle of marvels and is the most astounding event of all.
Where is our excitement? Where is our faith? What brings us to this Easter Sunday and where do we go from here? I would hope and I would pray that we are different, that our Lenten penances have taught us something about ourselves, that we have deepened our relationship with God, and that our hope has been renewed. Mary Magdalen and the apostles run because there is excitement, the excitement of discovery, the excitement of fulfilled promises, the excitement of winning the race.
Bishop Glen John Provost