Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to see Simon Peter and the other disciple, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,” [And they ran to the tomb and saw the linen clothes lying in the empty tomb]…,Then the disciples went back to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain. They said to her, “Woman why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” 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.” (John 20:)…
Who has never mourned for a deceased, loved one? The Apostles and the Disciples of Jesus would have been no different. They were companions for three years. It was not a 9 to 5 day and then a return home. It was a journey which was continuous 24 hours a day throughout the ministry of Christ. Those who were closest to Jesus had the most wondrous and uplifting experiences. The Apostles, and the women who served Him, knew Christ as we could only wish to know him, yet Mary from Magdala did not recognize him at all. Was it her grief which clouded her eyes, or was she simply not paying attention and concentrating only on the empty tomb rather than the fulfilling of the promise of the resurrection? Unfortunately, we do not have the answer, but what should concern us greater is the fact that she did not recognize the resurrected Christ.
What does this say for us? We are descendants of the first believers and followers who had hands on experience. We, on other the other hand, have only our faith and our beliefs which have been handed down to us through the ages. Challenged is even a better word. All we need to do is to look around us or pay closer attention to our lives, the people around us, and to events which daily drive us. There are so many conflicting stories daily invading our senses, just what are we to believe anyway? Why not include religion? First and foremost, many of us do not have the time for, good ol’ time religion. We see the hardships, the poverty, the crime, the world threats, the domestic quarrels. We work and strive to attain financial stability. We go to school, spend great amounts of money and never seem to be able to place our fists around success. So why should we accommodate a grandparent, or parent, or sibling, or child with any form of a Jesus movement? What proof exists? Just who has seen Him, anyway? Traditions?
Why must we conform to the teaching, ideas, philosophies, and maintain ancient traditions and customs generated by our forefathers? We have enough to do without clouding our minds with thoughts of eternal life and death rituals. Why get confused about salvation, when all we need is a good education, a fantastic job, a love relationship, and the most fantastic personal contacts? Isn’t this what life is about today? What is more interesting? Listening to a sermon, or watching the Academy Awards? Now that is a no brainer, unless….
Mary Magdalene was so overcome by grief she went to the tomb of Christ. To her amazement, the stone was moved. Jesus had taught his disciples about the resurrection on the third day, but even they could not fully comprehend this. The Greek philosophers had taught the world all about death and the crossing over the river Styx. Death was an end. But Jesus taught a new philosophy. Moreover, not only did He teach it, but He lived and fulfilled it. Mary simply did not understand until He addressed her. …”Mary.” She turned and said to Him, “Teacher.” Once recognition was set in place, she would have done what any of us would have done. She would have rushed to embrace him, Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. Mary followed the orders with expediency. Jesus would later appear to them where he would prove His death by showing the Apostles the wounds which had been inflicted upon His mortal body. They too believed. They saw and their eyes were opened. He would make a special return to attend to the missing Thomas, and would also meet the disciples by the sea of Tiberias. He would challenge their senses and would especially challenge their commitment. So why are we so cynical?
Do we have to see to believe, as well? Are we unable to witness the beauty Christ holds for us? Have we never heard of a modern day healing brought about in the church, or through the witness of a priest? Here Is our proof! The Lord Jesus is still with us! God still watches over us. Need proof?
A young girl had come to the United States to be a recipient of a delicate heart surgery which no one in Europe was able to perform. Tests were run, blood was drawn, x-rays and MRI’s were conducted, and all the cardiac care doctors agreed that this six year old could possibly be helped. It was a risk, but it was more than the parents had in Greece. It took two weeks for the doctors to prepare and two days before the surgery, the child was once again tested and pre-op procedures ensued. To their dismay, upon studying the new tests, it was discovered that this child had not only a heart defect, but also had encephalitis. There was a good chance the heart surgery would be successful, but the newly discovered encephalitis would cause death.
The parents were heartbroken. The doctors were beyond emotion. Volunteers who had taken in the family for almost a month could not understand with any clarity, but one woman decided she would call a church which had a local shrine. If anything, maybe a prayer of comfort, or a paraklesis and some holy water could ease the pain and the agony the family was about to live with one month, two months, maybe even three months before the child would die. A service was conducted, the child was anointed and the family returned to the hospital to procure medicines which would help the child live with the physical pain until death came. But something happened. When the doctors began their heartbreaking tasks, they discovered that the encephalitis was no longer present, and neither was the heart defect! What had occurred was an intercession by the Lord, Himself. Their belief and faith were rewarded and they did not return home to await a burial, but a renaissance. Faith. Belief! They had come to the Tomb and Jesus was not there as they expected. He resurrected.
Jesus did not abandon us. Mary did not recognize him, even though she knew him well. Today, we need to ask ourselves, if our religion has become outdated, or if, because of the more arduous tasks we live with, we should pay closer attention. This month we can all experience the glory of a promise and witness this personal saving act. Christ did this for us. Maybe it is time for us to get to know him better so that, even in our deepest despair or grief, we will know him and recognize his all-powerful presence and proclaim with joy and conviction,
Christ is Risen!