I could not say I believe. I know! I have had the experience of being gripped by something that is stronger than myself, something that people call God. ~Carl Jung
Father Brendan McGuire in his Good Friday homily retells a wonderful short story by O. Henry. Two elderly women, Joanna and Sue, are trying to survive the coldest winter on record. Joanna is suffering from pneumonia and is getting sicker as each cold day goes by.
There is no heating and they struggle to survive. Joanna looks out the window every morning, and they see the leaves dropping off a vine on the wall opposite their apartment. Joanna says to Sue, "When the last leaf of that vine falls to the ground, my time will have come to the end."
When there is only one leaf left on the vine, Sue tells to her neighbour, Behrman, a kind old man, about the two of them. Behrman has struggled all his life trying to be an artist and has failed.
The next day Joanna and Sue wake up and open up the blinds. They are relieved to see that today was not the day. The leaf was still on the vine. Joanna said to Sue, "Heat up some milk and we'll have some oatmeal; today is not the day."
The other members of the apartment started to talk, and they thought it was strange that Behrman had spent the coldest evening on record outside painting on the wall opposite the apartment until they found out that he had painted a leaf on the wall behind the vine.
When Joanna looked out, there was always one leaf for her. Behrman died that day, but he sacrificed his own life for the life of these two women.
Christ laid down his life for us, and it is real. Every day we are called to look upon the cross, knowing that Christ laid down his life so that we would have life, that we would know that life as we know it, goes to eternal life, and that he came to share that powerful message with us.
Is it real for us? Two thousand years later we are still celebrating that first Easter. We have not seen Jesus, as the apostles did, but we have “the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, the proclamation of the church, and the teachings of sacred scripture. [and] we have one thing that the apostles didn’t have: the witness of their lives! ...their martyrdom” (from The Word Among Us, Meditations for Easter 2012, p.22).
Christ is truly Risen! Let us rejoice!