A transcript of Fr. Otto Keiser's Sermon during the Easter Morning Mass, 2018.
Joys of the highest kinds are difficult to express properly and completely.
To sing, to dance, to shout, to embrace… we are trying by our actions to bring big things to the surface.
Only in the next life will we be able to fully express these realities. No longer restrained by any disordered passions, our whole being will be able to express purest joy and love without having to be on guard against its getting out of hand, for our balance will be restored, and the love we have will be unable to depart from its Source anymore, but will rather exist to magnify that Source, to glory in it, and to unite it to its fellow creatures in a colossal created magnification and extension of the Uncreated Love.
This Lent, we have been to the depths. We’ve walked in the desert with Jesus and seen him tempted.
We’ve followed Him through Palestine and been with Him when He was contradicted, calumniated, and opposed.
We have walked with Him in the Garden of Olives, joined him in the house of the high priest, in the courts of Pilate and Herod, followed Him to Calvary, and watched at His tomb.
Now, with the tears of our mourning barely dry on our cheeks, we are raised up to the heights!
But what do we find? The air is strangely thin up here. And where is Jesus? The angel says, “He is risen, He is not here.”
We have come at last to joy, to Alleluia, and Jesus is not quite here, somewhere up ahead, just out of sight.
And so we begin the great paradoxical adventure of the Christian life:
Jesus ever near, and ever far off. Just catching a glimpse of Him, and then He is gone the moment we recognize Him (as with the disciples going to Emmaus).
Or else, looking for Him with Mary Magdalene, we don’t recognize Him when He is right in front of us. We are ready to give up because we don’t see how He could possibly be so near, and we turn to find that He is right beside, and has been all the time, and we thought He was the gardener. Or He comes through stone walls and locked doors to find us.
What a strange sort of hide-and-seek is the life of a Christian!
Why does He promise that if we seek, we shall find, and yet remain just visible in glimpses or on the horizon, or gently tell us not to touch Him when we come close?
As we said at the beginning, our Joy is easily disordered in our fallen – even in our redeemed fallen – state. We have to be tantalized and led on, rather than satisfied, much of the time, to tame the disorder in us and keep it from spoiling the present good.
In addition, we must remember what Our Lord said just before the Passion: “That my joy may be in you, and your joy may be full.”
He is leading us to the love, the Joy that is our birthright: the particular kind and degree of Love and Joy that He has prepared for us.
He leads us step by step, by a seemingly circuitous and indirect route, to Himself.
If we believe in the Gospesl, we have seen that apparently twisty road, in the calling of the fishermen to be princes of the Church, in the calling of a tax collector to a life of self-giving, in the choosing of weak and fearful men and adulterous women to bring the message of Divine Purity and Strength to souls.
It must be the direct route, though we see only where we are and somewhat where we came from, and we only have a shadowy notion of where we will end up.
It must be the direct route, for God is Love and All-Wise, and He would not take us by any other way. However, we do not see the directness from our angle, because we can only see one angle, and only God can see all the angles at once, and how they fit together.
So come, let us up and pursue Christ Risen!
Let us join in the game, seeking Him wherever He hides, seeking Him by our silent moments of prayer and reflection, by our noisy and bustling moments of work and duty and family life, in our spiritual reading, in our Confessions and above all in our Communions; let us seek Him especially in our daily interactions with all the bad and good people we meet every hour, and who all bear His Image and Likeness, let us seek Him in the triumphs and the trials, the stresses and the smiling moments of every day.
If we seek His Face with love, we will find Him. By glimpses at times, and for longer periods at others, interspersed perhaps by times when we cannot see and maybe don’t even quite know our way, but we will find Him.
On occasion we will even be able to embrace Him, and all the while we carry in us a certain precious Joy -- the Joy of seeking and finding and following the Lord -- and that Joy will increase and be perfected until we are brought at last to see His Face always, in the embrace that never ends, together with the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the glory of the Father, and the Unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end,