Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
Grace Filled Easter
What lovely words from the Easter sequence, “Yes, tell us again, Mary: what did you see on your journey? I saw the tomb of one who still lives and the glory of the risen one.” Tell us again, Mary, and tell us often today and all the days of Easter! Mary and the women tell us of an experience that we cannot have. They went to anoint the body of Jesus whom they saw die. They had no hope nor expectation to find Jesus alive. Their experience we can only claim in faith.
After Jesus is buried, Matthew tells us that Joseph rolled a large stone to the entrance of the tomb and left. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remain sitting across from the tomb. So ends the day of Jesus’ death. Could the two Marys have been anymore empty or exhausted? On their walk home they must have spoken of returning to anoint the body and giving their dearest friend the dignity of proper burial.
Matthew tells us when the women then went as day was dawning to do their difficult work of fulfilling their love, they found an empty tomb, the large stone rolled back. Sitting on the stone was an angel. There are reflections on the thoughts of the angel Gabriel as he waits for Mary’s response at the Annunciation. What is happening in the angelic mind of this angel? He gets to use words that Jesus once used, ‘not dead but alive’! This angel sees joy begin to well up in two empty hearts, two broken hearts begin to heal. ‘Jesus is alive go to tell the others they will see him in Galilee’.
We know the women are dismissed, unbelievable. What would you and I give to be in the room when the empty of tears, hopeless holy women return. Seeing their indescribable joy, would such a change alone convinced us to believe their word? Would we have said to Mary, “Tell us again, what did you see on your journey!”
In John’s gospel Peter and John will race to the empty tomb when they hear that Jesus body is not there. They were men who set out perhaps ready to address vandalism or desecration, or were they drawn by the wild grace flowing around Jerusalem that early morning. They ran as men, competing who would be there first. John, the winner, perhaps respectful of Peter’s status and pain waits. But the women run differently. They aren’t used to this type of running. We could say they are running for their new lives, (maybe dancily running)? What Jesus said about life in him and with him is awakening in their thoughts. We hear though that they are ‘half over-joyed and half afraid’. Roller coasters cause such feelings! I’m sure the angel understood. But Jesus doesn’t want these good, loving women, dearest of friends, to be afraid. “Peace!” he says to them. They stop. They look. They embrace his feet and do him homage. “Do not be Afraid”, he says.
Remember Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. If we are empty and full of sorrow, Our Lord is with us to fill us. The bridegroom taken away, the one longed for and searched for has been found. When we are afraid Jesus himself takes away the half that is afraid, so we will be full of joy. Hear what Mary says once again, and again, and again on your journey “I saw the tomb of one who still lives and the glory of the risen one.”
Fr. William Murphy, CP is a member of Immaculate Conception Community in Jamaica, New York.