John begins his gospel with darkness, contrasting it with the light which is Christ. The theme is repeated with the darkness of Easter morning, when the grieving Mary Magdalene visited the tomb to perform the last ceremonies of anointing for her Beloved. Both she and the disciples walked in the chaos of unbelief. The empty tomb added to their confusion; it was only the Beloved Disciple who recognised what had happened. Dawn broke slowly for the followers of Jesus.
We celebrate Easter at a time when gardens and the countryside are full of spring flowers, baby animals are born and the world wakes from winter. It is a fitting backdrop to what happened on Easter morning. The horror of the crucifixion was replaced with the joy of the risen Lord. We are overwhelmed by being fed daily with stories of tragedy and evil and of how powerful people seem able to do what they like. The message of Jesus rising from the dead is light in the darkness. Bishop Martin Drennan talked about Jesus “transforming death into a gateway to new life.”
The story of Cornelius reminds us that God works in unexpected ways and that, as church, we need constantly to be aware of what the Spirit is telling us and act accordingly.
“The old order changeth, yielding place to new, and God fulfils himself in many ways.” (Tennyson, Morte d’Arthur)