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  • Steve Auth

"The Easter Orchids Rise"

Naples, Florida. Down here in our Florida Corona-decampment/winter place, I’ve been waiting all the long and prolonged winter season for Evelyn’s orchids to bloom. She’s a master gardener, but when we got back here in early winter from many months away, I declared them “dead”. “They’re not dead Steve,” she countered confidently. “I will revive them.” As the weeks passed, all the stores down here were selling beautiful, blooming orchids. All our friends had beautiful, blooming orchids. Our little collection still looked pretty dead to me.

That changed about two weeks ago, as Holy Week approached. One at time, then in unison, they started opening up. And not just opening up, literally exploding. On one plant alone, which I’d bought for her a few years ago with maybe 5 or 6 flowers on it, has by my count 50 blooms on it! I began to call these collectively “The Corona Blooms.” Through all the doom and the gloom of the Corona lockdown, they’ve arrived just in time for Easter. And every time she or I set our gaze on one, it brings a warm, Easter glow to our hearts.

Then I put two and two together. They were pronounced dead. D.O.A. Then, on Easter, they bloomed. They’re not the Corona Blooms at all. They’re the Easter Orchids. They’ve risen.

So for the Easter Octave, I’m going to write a short reflection on the Resurrection readings we’ll be doing in the liturgies this week. One for each of Evelyn’s magical Easter Orchids, Today’s is called “Eyes of Faith”.

“The Eyes of Faith” Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. Matthew 28: 9

The early days of Easter must have been a whirlwind for the Apostles, and in fact everyone in Jerusalem. The tomb was empty; no disagreement on that. But where was Jesus? Had he really risen from the dead as he had promised his followers he would? Of the three followers closest to Jesus, who’d stuck with him to the bitter end, we see a pattern—at least two out of three, possibly all three --who manage to see what has happened within the first hour or so. At the tomb itself, it’s the loyal John, not the denier Peter, who “saw and believed” when he saw the bound funeral wrappings lying on the stone, probably because they were in tact as if a body had come through them mysteriously. (John 21:8). And now here, in Matthew 28:9, Jesus appears to Mary of Magdala and “the other Mary” (In Matthew’s account of the crucifixion, he identifies this other Mary as the mother of John and James.  John’s gospel also places Mary the mother of Jesus at the foot of the cross, accompanied by John himself, perhaps in a separate part of the crowd there.)

The rest of the disciples are excited and intrigued, but as epitomized by Thomas, doubters until Jesus appeared, later, to them as well.

Then there are the two guards and the Pharisees. The guards saw the resurrection, and for money, denied it. The Pharisees heard about it from good sources, and didn’t even consider it or investigate it properly. They denied it.

The apostles had faith, and they had love in their hearts for Jesus. So they were open to the truth of his resurrection. The Pharisees didn’t, and the guards didn’t, and they simply refused to believe. They had faith only in their unbelief.

My question for myself today is simply this: am I a Pharisee, or an Apostle? Do I have the eyes of faith? A missionary April 13, 2020


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