Fr. Paddy’s Blog

“’Did you not know what the Holy one can do with dust?’

It’s a line from a poem for Ash Wednesday by Jan Richardson. In it she talks about how things and people, which can feel like dust and dirt, are made glorious and beautiful by what God does with them. God does amazing things with dust.

What must it have felt like on the Sabbath following the crucifixion? After all that life, energy, noise, hope? And now silence, disappointment, defeat, and death? We thought this Jesus was the one to save Israel! We thought He would bring release for those who felt held captive. We thought he would heal the broken hearted. Yet, here we are, the same old problems, the same old pain. Everything has changed, and yet nothing has changed. All our hopes turned to dust.

But then, at dawn on Easter Day, Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb and finds it empty. She meets Jesus in the garden and finds that he is risen! The silence of her grief is interrupted by her joyful cry of ‘Rabboni’ and she rushes to tell others that she has seen the Lord! Hope breaks in again. Even in his weakest moment, taking upon himself all the brokenness and pain of the world, God has transformed it all. All the mess, pain and destructiveness of the world has not defeated him. As the song says, ‘Death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered.’

In a world which is hurting, anxious and weary, which can sometimes feel as dirty as dust, we can say that God breathes new life into dust, making it glorious and beautiful. Even the bleakest and darkest situations cannot overcome him. Even in his own death, God defeats death and saves us. So, we need never lose hope. Whoever we are – wherever we have come from – there is no entrance exam or qualifying test to God’s hope and invitation. Whatever the challenges of today, God is good and can transform even the most difficult situation that we face.

No one, faltering or steadfast, has an easy journey to the risen Lord. We all take wrong turns. We all make mistakes. Mary Magdalene, Peter, and the Beloved Disciple were no different. This Easter, they continue to be our companions on our journey to faith in the risen Lord. They assure us that there is room for each of us – for one who sees and believes, for another who sees and is confused, and yet another who needs to hear her own name. These three companions give us hope that despite our weaknesses and failings we too can come to fullness of life and proclaim the joyful news of the Resurrection.

This Easter, may we know that hope of God in Jesus Christ. May we know again what God can do with dust, as today we join with the defiant and hopeful song of the Church through all ages – Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!”

An Easter poem by the English poet, Malcolm Guide.

As though some heavy stone were rolled away,
You find an open door where all was closed,
Wide as an empty tomb on Easter Day

 Lost in your own dark wood, alone, astray,
You pause, as though some secret were disclosed,
As though some heavy stone were rolled away. 

You glimpse the sky above you, wan and grey,
Wide through these shadowed branches interposed,
Wide as an empty tomb on Easter Day.

 Perhaps there’s light enough to find your way,
For now the tangled wood feels less enclosed,
As though some heavy stone were rolled away.

 You lift your feet out of the miry clay
And seek the light in which you once reposed,
Wide as an empty tomb on Easter Day.

 And then Love calls your name, you hear Him say:
The way is open, death has been deposed,
As though some heavy stone were rolled away,
And you are free at last on Easter Day.