Before you read this post, do yourself a favor and first read the resurrection account from St. Mark’s Gospel. (16: 1-8)
Nothing like our Jesuit, Pope Francis to teach us the power and importance of the imagination when it comes to engaging the Gospels and living our faith. You can read his beautiful Easter Homily here.
Another person from our tradition who had a powerful imagination and a beautiful way of using it to teach the faith was St. Catherine of Siena. I wish to share with you this reflection she offered in one of the many letters she wrote during her lifetime.
“Go into the tomb of self-knowledge, and with Magdalen ask, “Who will roll back the stone from the tomb for me? For the stone (that is, the guilt of sin) is so heavy that I can’t budge it.” And as soon as you have acknowledged and confessed how imperfect and heavy you are, you will see two angels, who will roll this stone away. I mean that divine help will send you the angel of holy love and reverence for God (a love that is never alone but gives us the company of love for our neighbors), and the angel of hatred (accompanied by true humility and patience), to roll this stone away. Persevere in staying there until you find Christ risen in your soul by grace. Once you have found him, go and proclaim it to your brothers – and your brothers are the true, solid, lovely virtues with whom you want to and do take up your residence. Then, Christ lets you touch him in continual humble prayer by appearing to your soul in a way you can feel. This is the way, there is no other.” St. Catherine of Siena, Noffka, The Letters of Catherine of Siena Vol II, Letter T173 pp. 512-513)
On this Easter Sunday, it is important for us to encounter the Risen Christ. In the first resurrection accounts of the Gospels, the first experience of Jesus’ disciples was the ‘encounter with the empty tomb.’ This is quite different from meeting the Risen Jesus. This is why the power of our imagination is so important as we read these Gospel accounts of Jesus. They help us realize that just as Jesus interacted with real people, he continues to encounter us with the power of his Risen Life.
The Risen Lord longs to help us know ourselves better. He wants us to be humbled by our sins to the point we completely die to sinful patterns. He wants us to be highly aware of all he has done to free us from sin. Then, grateful and humble, with and in the Life of the Risen Christ, we become a new creation. We become renewed in our missionary zeal to carry Christ and his Good News to all the world.