Grace: To know the joy of the resurrection as Mary knows it.
Reading: John 20:1-9
Reflection: Christ is not dead. He has risen. He is alive.
Go ahead, ask Mary of Magdela, or Peter, or the beloved disciple, or the Mother of Jesus. They will tell you the story. Ask them what they saw while in the soft darkness before daybreak. You’ll hardly believe it.
Just imagine . . .
Nothing remained in that cold tomb except a folded up piece of cloth. Friends of theirs had laid Jesus there just a few days earlier after he was given a betrayer’s death. And now, that tomb was empty. The body gone.
And that scared Peter, John, and Mary. They were afraid of what they did not understand. Really afraid. Wasn’t it enough to crucify Jesus? Did someone really have to steal his body too? When would this hatred and cruelty end? The three followers didn’t think they had it in them to associate with Jesus and his mission much longer, especially since he was dead and his body gone forever. John the Baptizer had been killed. Judas had betrayed Jesus, defected, and killed himself. Many of the former disciples were nowhere to be seen. Jesus had been crucified. And now someone stole his body, so they thought.
The march to Jerusalem with Jesus now meant nothing but a long, treacherous retreat back home, back to the sea of Galilee.
But at that same time that those three were examining the tomb the whole world was turning upside down. That morning Mary, the mother of Jesus, was slow to wake up in her dark and quiet bedroom. Her little boy was dead. For the first time in as long as she could remember, she felt alone, weak, lonely. She felt as if her heart had died with her son.
Then, in the soft dark, she felt a hand on her shoulder. A warm breath skiped across her forehead. Confused, she barely opened her heavy eyes.
Jesus, she thought. Oh, what a beautiful dream. My son, Jesus, come back to me.
“Jesu . . . ” “Jes . . . ” ” J . . . ” “You’re alive. You’re alive!”
She felt his hand on her shoulder and put her hand on top of it. She felt the wound. In an instant she knew that the infinite joy of this moment was as real as the horror of Friday. The horror of death has, in some radical way, turned into joy. Her son had broken through the darkness and had been risen from the dead.
Heartbreak and Joy. Weeping and laughter.
“Jesus, my son, you’re alive! I see you. I see you alive.”
Jesus smiled. “I am alive. All things are possible through my Father, even life over death.”
Praise be Jesus Christ, risen son of the Father. He is risen for Mary, for his disciples, and for you and me. Pray that we may all live in that joy of the resurrection this Easter season.
From the Jesuits at the Spiritual Exercises blog to all of you readers, Happy Easter!