Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

ROLLING STONE GATHERS NO MOSS…
(Meditation for Easter 23.03.08)

‘Christ is Risen’, and yes ‘He is indeed Risen’, let me wish you all a blessed and a spirit filled Easter. As you all are aware the etymology of the word ‘Easter’ comes from root word ‘Eastre’, which was the Anglo-Saxon name for a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility and her day is celebrated on the day of the spring equinox. More over we Christians celebrate Easter as the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the clutches of death and affirms in the dawn of a new life. Therefore Easter is the celebration of spring, fertility and new life.

The key verse for our meditation is Mark 16:3. “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” This was a question asked by the women disciples of Jesus Christ as they came in the early morning to anoint the dead body of Jesus Christ in the sepulchre. It was the Lord, who rolled the stone away from the entrance of the tomb and resurrected Jesus Christ from the bondage of death. This stone, which was cut from a rock (Mk 15:46) to lock the body of Jesus Christ, happens to be the first witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore I would like to entitle my meditation, as “Rolling Stone Gathers no Moss”. This is a very famous phrase, which we often use and the meaning of this phrase is that, “Mosses need a stable and a moist environment to grow, and if a stone is rolling it does not provide this environment, and there fore rolling stone gathers no moss”. And when I use this phrase as a title to my meditation, I mean that this rolling stone on the tomb of Jesus, when is rolled by the Lord during the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it also gathers no moss and tramples the roots of sin and death to grow no more. The resurrection rolling stone gathers no moss, but provides an environment for new life, new strength and new hope to live in all freedom and justice.

If the resurrection rolling stone gathers no moss, and then what does it gather? I would like to bring out three prominent things that this stone gathered.

1. The resurrection rolling stone gathered the activity of God.
2. The resurrection rolling stone gathered the attention of people.
3. The resurrection rolling stone gathered the allegations of injustice.

1.The Resurrection Rolling Stone Gathered the Activity of God
As the women disciples pose the question, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” in 3 v, and when they looked up already the stone has been rolled away, for the stone was very great (4v). Who would have rolled that great stone away? Who would have had the strength and courage to roll that great stone away, when there was a z ++ security cover at the tomb of Jesus? It was precisely the activity of the Living God. The God of justice and liberation could not have tolerated the death of an innocent Jesus, who had an unjust trial and therefore the activity of God is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the pangs of death. The activity of God proclaims and professes that death has no more strength over justice, for justice is always triumphant. God has chained death in the empty tomb of Jesus Christ and made resurrection a reality. Death is swallowed up in victory of resurrection, the sting of death is broken and the victory of grave is overcome. “Thanks be to God, who gives the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”(I Cor 15: 57) The resurrection rolling stone gathers the activity of God and makes Jesus’ tomb an empty one.

In today’ India, there are several people who are bonded in a tomb under the rubric of caste oppression, gender discrimination, class inequality, child labour, etc., and they ask, “who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” The resurrection rolling stone challenges all of us to gather the activity of the Living God. All those who affirm their faith in this Living God, are today called on to carry on the work of the activity of God, to liberate these people from their death tombs and spread the gospel of new life. “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (I Cor 15:14). Since we affirm that Christ is risen, our preaching and faith should make us to be the channels of God’s grace in granting life to all those who are denied life.

2. The Resurrection Rolling Stone Gathered the Attention of People
The resurrection rolling stone, as it rolled away it gathered the attention of people, particularly the disciples. More than to make Christ go out of the tomb, the stone was rolled from the door of the tomb to make people come in and witness the empty tomb. The women disciples of Jesus were first ones to draw their attention to the rolling stone and the empty tomb. And as these women missionaries of resurrection carried the message of empty tomb, the men disciples came and went into the empty tomb and found the linen of Jesus in its own position, since the body of Jesus Christ was already resurrected from there. If the stone was not rolled away from the entrance of the tomb, many people would not have seen the empty tomb of Jesus, and would not have witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death. If such was the case, people would have built a huge tomb and monument with a huge epitaph on it in that place for Jesus Christ and would have killed the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But Jesus Christ is risen indeed, and that stone was rolled away from the entrance of the tomb.
That rolling stone gathered the attention of the people, because death was chained and the clutches of injustice were arrested once for all in that empty tomb by Jesus Christ.

Today, when many across and around us are shackled in the jaws of various situations of death, like farmer suicides, violence on Dalits, dowry deaths, female infanticides, attacks and persecutions on minorities, etc, as believers in resurrection do we draw our attention to these our fellow human beings? Are we there beside them in times of suffering and pain? Does our message of resurrection has any meaning, relevance and hope to our neighbours caught up in the web of serious and heinous situations. Today, the challenge is let us as those celebrating this Easter attend to our neighbours, address their needs, and make resurrection a reality in their lives. If we cannot roll the great stone away from the entrance of the tombs of death where several of our friends are trapped and caught up, the issues of our friends will be unattended and resurrection of Christ remains as an idle tale (Lk 24: 11) and not as a reality.

3.The Resurrection rolling Stone Gathered the Allegations of Injustice
As the news spread that the stone was rolled away, Jesus Christ was resurrected from death, immediately the Chief Priest and elders gathered up to bribe the security personnel to lie that the body of Jesus Christ was stolen in the night by his disciples, and resurrection of Christ was just a story and not history. (Mt 28:11-15). If the resurrection rolling stone was not rolled away by God, and if the body of Jesus Christ remained in the tomb for several years, the enemies of life would have had their day. But since the stone was rolled away, since Christ was resurrected, there were allegations made by the proponents of injustice. Firstly, death would have thought, there is no defeat for it, for it has conquered everyone till then, but with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it had to allege, “ the sting of my death is broken and the victory of the grave is defeated.” Secondly injustice would have thought, through its means it has brought Jesus on to the Cross and then to the grave, for it fooled every one in the power and in the pew, but with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it had to allege, “I, injustice has always been a winner thus far, but now am chained and sentenced for life not to rule over people and I am lost now.”

Today, when people stand for justice and speak for the equality and dignity of life, several allegations are made on them. Scores of charge sheets are written on them who strive for life in all its fullness. But ultimately truth and justice are always triumphant. The resurrection of Jesus Christ inspires all of us to live for justice and truth, and counter all forces of injustice and falsehood with courage. ‘Stones are thrown at fruit bearing tress.’ In our journey towards justice and liberation, let not any allegations demoralise us, and let us be remembered that the spirit of resurrection is always with us to resist those forces and take us home safe and secure.

May the God who raised Jesus from death grant us all a new life to live in a new way with a new hope of resurrection. Resurrection rolling stone gathers no moss, but gathers new life and inspires all of us to witness and channel that new life to all around us. Christ is Risen, and He is risen indeed.


Rev. Raj Bharath Patta,
Executive Secretary,
Commission on Dalits and Adivasis,
National Council of Churches in India.

No comments: