Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Weeping Outside the Empty Tomb With the Fullness of Easter Hope. By: C.C.

Early this morning a dear sister in Christ told me of her Grandmother's passing. I read today's Gospel reading and was moved to reflect on it. Though it is written primarily for her, I pray it too will comfort those in similar situations.Please join me in prayer for her and her family. (Today's Gospel reading precedes my reflection).
"Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there,one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been.And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,and I don’t know where they laid him.”When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,but did not know it was Jesus.Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?Whom are you looking for?”She thought it was the gardener and said to him,“Sir, if you carried him away,tell me where you laid him,and I will take him.”Jesus said to her, “Mary!”She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,for I have not yet ascended to the Father.But go to my brothers and tell them,‘I am going to my Father and your Father,to my God and your God.’”Mary went and announced to the disciples,“I have seen the Lord," and then reported what he had told her." (John 20:11-18)

I often wonder what it would have been like to be there. To be standing beside Mary Magdalene,perhaps comforting her in her time of mourning. I would imagine trying to show through my presence and friendship that I could some how fathom the depth of her despair and sadness in thinking that Jesus, who saved her from herself and from her sins was gone. 
As if bearing the Crucifixion and knowing of His death wasn't enough, she now sat outside the empty tomb weeping for where her Lord could have gone. Unknown to her at that moment of course, is God's plan, already accomplished in the rising of His Son. She weeps outside the tomb, as we would also; arguably, as we do when a loved one has passed. We long to hold on to them, it is human to do so. Out of love we recall memories, we replay their presence in our lives, their words, their touch, that is to be no more. It brings us, and rightfully so, a degree of suffering,sadness and loss.

In some ways we can be so desperate to go where they have been taken, just so that we can be with them once again. And then, here in this Easter Octave, we read this Gospel message and see that the despair Mary felt in her heart, overcame her so much so that she did not see Jesus there before her, she did not see her risen Saviour. We are not told that she was kept from recognizing Jesus, as in the Scripture account of The road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)...It can be suggested that in the depth of her despair and loss she had blinded herself to the hope and joy of the risen Lord. Yet, in His goodness He again calls her name and she knows Him; grasping her attention with the intimate speaking of her name that only the Lord could possibly know. 

Like Mary, we wait and weep outside of the tomb, but we, an Easter people, now know the joy of the risen Lord. We know the promise of Eternal Life and the place that is promised to us if we are to be obedient followers of Christ. “Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death” (Isaiah 57:2) We see an empty tomb out of despair, but we are called in our sadness to recognize Christ before us, within us, and beside us calmly calling our name, offering His consolation, through His Resurrection to the Heavenly Father.

To weep is natural. Jesus too wept for Lazarus. But let us not hold on to our loved ones so to keep ourselves in mourning and forget to pray for them, for the repose of their soul, for God's mercy on them so that they may be raised with our Lord to the joy of Eternal life. “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?"
Whom we seek most has indeed risen, and for this reason, even in our time of loss we can rejoice, and can hope in knowing Jesus Christ. Amen (CC)

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