There are a number of minor characters who appear in the Passion narratives in all four gospels. They seldom get much attention. So this Lent I want to try to see these invisible people of the Passion and imagine events through their eyes.

Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:50-53)

I know it sounds wild and improbable. But I am not the only one who had the experience.

Most people say it was just my grief and that I should probably stop telling the story at all. But I know what I felt and I can’t pretend that it did not take place.

Certainly, my story is not the only one that is hard to comprehend. Even the fact that his followers claim to have experienced his presence again, is unbelievable to many people. I never doubted their tales, how could I after what happened to me?

It was soon after that terrible day, we have come to call “Good Friday.” He died on that cross, in horrifying anguish. He seemed to have been forsaken by everyone, even by God. And, on that day, there was a terrible shaking in the earth; the whole world trembled.

But most of all it seemed that the tombs where we bury our dead were disturbed. I know because I had gone to the tomb where we had buried my father just days before Jesus’ death. My father’s tomb was shattered, broken in two. It had cost us every penny we had to purchase this final resting place for my father’s remains and now it was ruined.

We had wanted to honour his memory. He died a hero in one of those skirmishes that take place frequently in our homeland. A wild bunch of radicals decide to attack the Romans. They operate at night and sometimes, if they are lucky, they kill an occasional Roman soldier. We all know it is a futile gesture; but we admire men like my father who die trying to bring liberty to our people.

Of course the Romans caught him and executed him immediately. They didn’t even have the decency to pretend to have a trial. Their version of justice was swift and so my father is gone and his final resting place now had been desecrated. Grief swept over me. I did not know where to turn. For days I just wanted to lash out and attack someone, anyone. I wanted to punish the world. Someone had to pay. I carried the anger in my heart like heated iron.

That all ended suddenly two days after the Romans had executed that other troublemaker named Jesus. My father had been dead now for five days. It was late at night and, like all the nights since my father died, I could not sleep. I sat up on the roof of our house nursing my hatred looking out over the dark sleeping city. I let the anger and resentment in my heart boil til I thought I would burst.

A breeze stirred from the east. There was a faint glow from the corner of the roof top; then I heard a sound. I felt there was someone there. It’s not exactly that I saw anyone; it was more just a familiar presence. Then I heard his voice. I’m sure my heart stopped for the seconds he spoke.

“My son,” he said, “do not be bitter. Let there be no place for hatred in your heart. I am held in love. Goodness has triumphed. Find the Jesus people and listen to their stories.”

Then he was gone. I knew it was my father. His tomb had broken apart because he was no longer there. Somehow death had not held him.

The next day, I followed his instructions. I found the Jesus people. I listened to their stories. Almost from the first words, I knew they were telling the truth.

They said, death had been conquered. They said love had won the day and I could feel in my heart that the words they spoke were true.

They said that, at the moment Jesus had died, the curtain in the temple that separated the holiest place from the part of the temple where ordinary worshipers were permitted, had been torn in two from top to bottom. Again, I knew it was true.

That is what had happened. The veil that seems to separate life from death and God from this world had vanished the day Jesus died. There was no longer any separation between the physical realities we experience every day and the etneral realities we will eventaully experience in all their fullness after our bodies die.

My heart was filled with new life. The burning iron tha was cosnuming my spirit, had been replaced with a gentle glow that was filled with the warmth of love, rather than the fire of hatred. The bitterness was gone. I no longer felt resentment or anger. There was simply no place for those deadly realities any longer. Like Jesus, I had transcended the death of my own inner violence.

It was not that I had done something to make this journey. It had simply happened. I followed the voice of wisdom that had come to me through my father. I allowed myself to open enough to make one small gesture in obedience to that guidance. The rest unfolded from there.

Since that day I have found so many times that the way toward death lies along the path of my own determination to get even, to make life unfold as I am determined it should. The way toward life lies along the path of opening and surrender. As I pay attention to the slightest prodding towards gentleness and love, my being opens afresh and I discover again the presence I now call Jesus. This is resurrection. This is the transaction that abolishes death and brings new life.

The presence of Jesus is raised in my heart every time I open to the goodness and love that he embodied in his life. This is the power that exploded into the world when God raised Jesus from death.