APRIL 6. TUES AFTER EASTER. JN. 20. 11-18
Mary stayed outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, still weeping, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet. They said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away’ she replied ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him. Jesus said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’ Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’ – which means Master. Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ So Mary of Magdala went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had said these things to her.
In this Gospel reading Mary is beside herself with grief having observed The Passion of her dearest friend, who had not only been buried, but now his body had apparently been taken.
Notice how sorrow seems to be a common theme, firstly in the life of Jesus Christ, and then in the life of anyone who chooses to follow him? Sorrow at our own failures, sorrow at the state of the world, sorrow at the amount of suffering in the world, sorrow at the state of the Church, sorrow at the way the world has rejected Christ etc.
But one of the core teaching of Christ is that our sorrows and sufferings possess great value if we join them to his sufferings and sorrows, an invitation we have all received when Christ invited us to “follow him”, and again when he told us, “He who follows me does not walk in darkness, as he has the light of life!”
One lesson from today’s Gospel is Christ can be very close to us, and yet we do not recognise him! “She turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him!” In this particular case Jesus was standing very close to her, and “she saw him there” but she did not recognise him?
This happens to Christians often, and particularly in times of suffering, and Christ bore witness to this fact only a couple of days earlier, as he hung upon the Cross; - “My God, my God, WHY have you abandoned me?”
It is very easy to forget what the Passion and Death of Christ was all about, and that is: “to offer Reparation to the Father for the sins of mankind; - and to open the gates of heaven to sinners”; - which is what we are; - so we can spend Eternity in Heaven in a Union of Love with our Creator; - an outstanding purpose and intention for which we should be eternally grateful; - and committed to?
What today’s Gospel highlights is we need to have Faith that Christ is very near to us at all times; - but particularly when we are suffering and in a state of despair; - times when Faith is important as; - like Christ on the Cross; - these are times when we feel particularly alone!
How precious and important is our Faith, as it tells us, not only that God is close, but he resides within us; - “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home in him!” Mary did not ‘see’ Christ standing next to her!