‘Jesus has decisively “made space” for God in the world of men, so that from now on God is found in the world definitively in the history of Jesus. This is what God's mercy is: an unconditional gift of incalculable cost. It can only be embodied in history in human shape, in the shape of a life and a death seen and accepted as something entirely defined as God’s gift to men; a life which is a total offering both to God and to men, so total that human limitation becomes irrelevant. A human life is not just a matter of history, it is the abiding sign of God’s presence in the world. The empty grave, that strange and ambivalent sign, stands as our reminder that the life of Jesus is not “over”, not limited and defined and tidied up. He is “with us”. In every extremity, every horror and pain, Jesus is accessible as the one who continued to make God’s loving presence wholly present in the depth of his own anguish and abandonment. There is place for God now in all suffering, at the heart of suffering and even of death, because we have seen the glory of God abiding in the squalor and humiliation of Jesus’ execution. Jesus has “authority” in that he had the right to be there and to be called on in suffering and death. He holds the keys of hell, because he has dwelt there and still lives.
Death and the hells of dereliction and abandonment eat up men and women, exhaust them, scrape them out and bring them to nothing. Jesus is already empty, already poor, already nothing, for God is everything in him; and so the inexhaustible life of God meets death and eats it up and exhausts it. “Death and life have contended” says the Easter hymn. And Jesus by death, the death of obedience, of self-emptying, of gift and grace and mercy, has trampled death underfoot, and shown us the way to life by union with the pattern of his death - his mercy, his self-emptying, his self-offering. By this we can, with him, pass from death to life and die for the life of all the world. By service and gift of our whole being to God and to his suffering world, we may stand with Jesus and live the life of God and share the lordly freedom of God’.
Rowan Williams, Lord Williams of Oystermouth (Archbishop of Canterbury, 2002-2012)
Fr Lee Kenyon