I can’t begin to imagine the grief of people who are bereaved by terrorism. Innocent people, going about their everyday business, unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, are killed by those enthralled by hatred. The terrorists’ desire is to destroy all that they hate – themselves and the human society of which they are a part. The bereaved, and those who suffer life changing injury, have their lives torn apart and care for them demands the greatest concern in any humane society, but they are not the only victims. The bombs and the guns are only the beginning. The terrorists’ ambition is to destroy human society by infecting it with fear; fear that will lead to suspicion and hatred. They want neighbours who had lived happily together, to turn against one another and suspect each other of being a threat. They want human society to break down as fear casts out love and hatred replaces kindness.
I can’t imagine the grief of the women who came to the grave of their dear friend on the third morning after he had been killed. Theirs was a world of terror, fear and hatred, suspicion of enemy collaborators, gratuitous violence and innocent suffering. Who knows what they had expected their friend to do, but they, and so many others, had hoped that he would somehow bring an end to their suffering and liberate them from oppression by foreign forces. But their own politicians had collaborated with the foreign powers to execute him: an innocent man sacrificed, crucified, to maintain control and order through fear.
What the women found, compounded their devastation – the body had been removed, the grave desecrated. The authorities had persecuted this man, tortured and crucified him, could they not leave his body at peace? Mary, one of the women, stayed by the grave: heartbroken, crying. Through her tears, she saw someone. “Why are you crying, who are you looking for?” he asked. Perhaps he was in charge, so she said, “If you have removed him, tell me where and I will take him away.” He spoke her name, “Mary,” and then she realised, she recognised him. This was her dear friend, Jesus, whom she had seen crucified, dead and buried. In that instant the whole of her existence was transformed – what had appeared evidence of desecration became a sign of the greatest hope. Jesus is alive, so the empty tomb is not a cause of compounded fear, but a sign of the greatest joy.
In a world surrounded by terror and violence, now as then, the message of Easter is that fear will never conquer love – love will always triumph.
Canon Christopher Ivory
Kings Lynn Minster