Read: Luke 24:1-12
There is a Polish saying that goes something like, “Learn a second language, earn a second soul.” Europeans are notoriously multilingual and get the meaning behind this saying instantly. Language is not merely code for our sensory experience, it is a code system for a worldview. As one crosses cultural boundaries, one finds that the expectations for what ought to be and the rules for how things work change. Learning a second language earns you a glimpse into another world. We have been studying about culture and faith all throughout Lent, both in Sunday sermons and on Wednesday evenings. My hope is that it has been an exercise in learning a second cultural language. I hope you have gained a deeper understanding of what it means to be an Anglo and a Hispanic in the US today.
One could say that this passage of Scripture tells the story of the greatest cross-cultural experience of all. Two women, locked in their culture’s prescription for grief and mourning, make their way to the tomb of a loved one. There, their carefully constructed world crashes headlong into another one. The angels’ message gives them a glimpse into that heavenly world where death works by different rules, and mourning is turned into joy. Peter is also locked in his culture’s world that discredits a woman’s testimony, but he goes anyway. He finds that Jesus is not in the tomb where his world says he ought to be. He cannot understand it and he cannot deny it. He has glimpsed another world. What will become even clearer over the next weeks of his life is just how profoundly different that other world is. He will recall that Jesus had been giving them glimpses all along when people were healed of diseases, the lame walked and the blind saw, and the dead were raised.
The most profound difference between our world and the heavenly one lies in the source. Our human cultural worlds are constructed over time by common consensus among a given group of people in a given environment that shifts and changes as that environment changes. The world of heaven is rooted in eternal truth, is true in every environment, and is accessible to every human being. What we are invited into is not just another system, but the System behind all creation. When we venture into that world, relativity is relativized, and we find ourselves standing on bedrock.
So, what is the language of this strange, new world? It is compassion. It is truth. It is beauty. We as a church, sister to a Hispanic congregation and living in an incredibly diverse place, have the fantastic adventure before us of discovering how each of the worlds in the people around us appreciates compassion, truth, and beauty, and sharing with them our own in humble wonder. Yes, we will be perplexed, but we will not be undone—we will be resurrected ourselves.
God of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, how grateful we are that you broke into our world and learned our language, that we might begin to learn yours. Open our hearts to the truth of ourselves, of our world, and of your vision for the world, that we might find grace to rise from our self-constructed worlds to love the world as you have loved us. We address you through Jesus Christ, the great revealer of the Father by the power of the Spirit. Amen.
-Fr. Paul Moore