Easter Reflection

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. 

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 
When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”  Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.  John 20:1-18

Easter Sunday is a day for celebrating and affirming God’s love in Jesus Christ! And it’s a day to give thanks to God for giving us life now and forever! I need to catch myself. The trap of many Christians (including me!) is to proclaim Easter Sunday faith as a certainty. The two are not the same. Remember the words of John where “the other disciple” not only saw,but also, “believed.” In this case the disciple saw an empty tomb and had faith that there was more at work than a missing corpse.  

Mary supposed that Jesus’ body had been taken and He was gone forever. Jesus was gone, at least as Mary had known him. Mary’s song might have been “I’ll Be Seeing You in the Old Familiar Places!” Like Mary, my first reaction to change is to cling to the familiar.We cannot let the strange and unfamiliar stretches of our journey obscure God’s amazing and wondrous love for us. Especially in the darkness of a pre-dawn Easter, we, like Mary, may discover that the living Christ is closer to us than we could ever imagine!  

                                   I never suspected Resurrection
and to be so painful
To leave me weeping
With joy
To have met you, alive and smiling, outside an empty tomb
With regret
Not because I’ve lost you
But because I’ve lost you in how I had you—
In understandable, touchable, kissable, clingable flesh
not as fully Lord, but as graspably human.

I want to cling, despite your protest
Cling to your body
Cling to your, and my clingable humanity
And to cling to what we had, our past.

But I know that…if I cling
You cannot ascend and
I will be left clinging to your former self
…unable to receive your present spirit.

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing

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