The world-famous violinist Fritz Kreisler earned a fortune with his concerts and compositions. And he generously gave most of it away. So, when he discovered an exquisite violin on one of his trips, he wasn’t able to buy it. Later, having raised enough money to meet the asking price, he returned to the seller hoping to purchase that beautiful instrument. To his great dismay, it had been sold to an antique collector.
Kreisler made his way to the new owner’s home and offered to buy the violin. The rare instrument was proudly displayed behind a sealed and solid glass case. Resting in its velvet couch, the violin lay imprisoned in its climate controlled coffin. The collector said that it had become his prized possession, and he would not sell it.
Keenly disappointed, Kreisler was about to leave, when he had an idea. “Could I play the instrument once more before it’s consigned to silence?” he asked. Permission was granted, and the great virtuoso released the violin from its fancy casket and filled the room with such heart-moving music that the collector’s emotions were deeply stirred. “I have no right to keep that to myself,” the collector exclaimed. “It’s yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world and let people hear it.”
A few months ago, as we celebrated Christmas, everywhere we looked there were lights and sparkling decorations and images of the Baby lying in the manger. Think how different things are today. We are celebrating the most important moment in human history – the rising of Christ from the dead – and if there are any decorations at all, they all strangely relate to bunnies and colored eggs filling a basket.
It would be difficult to imagine a way to turn the image of an empty tomb into a decorating theme. But, that empty tomb has changed our life.
If the tomb was not empty, the words of Jesus would continue to inspire us, and his example of patient love would move us to be a better person. But, as he shared in the one human reality we have not yet experienced personally – death – and then returned to life as he had promised, he made it possible for us to imagine in every way that it is possible for us to also be returned to life.
If we are discouraged today because since last we celebrated Easter we have drifted away from God, or let something become more important than God in our life, we consider the powerful forgiving love of Jesus, and we know we can begin again today to grow closer to him. As we share the joy of this day with family and friends, if there is some offense that is a barrier between us and someone important, today we remember that anything can be forgiven if we invite the love of Jesus to enter into our heart. Today may renew our sense of loss because someone who was with us last year is no longer here, but Jesus continues to be true to his word, that his return from death will be shared by us and we will be with our loved ones again one day.
The death of Jesus on the Cross, and his departure from the tomb alive are not just ancient beliefs preserved like pieces in a museum. Easter reminds us that we are to be like that violin in the hands of the great virtuoso. We have the power to make beautiful music in the world, because Jesus lives with us, making it possible for us to be exactly the person God created us to be – filled with love, forgiven and so full of hope, courageous enough to accept a cross because we know we are not alone in the darkness. Today we declare that Jesus lives. Now, take that to the world and let people hear it!
–Fr. Stephen W Bierschenk