Easter Sunday, Year C, 17 April, 2022: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9
In this morning’s Gospel, there are yet no angels, no announcement of the Lord’s rising; rather, Mary Magdalene, Peter and the Beloved Disciple puzzle over the empty tomb.
Was Peter driven to the tomb by his inner turmoil? He had wounded a man, trying to prevent Jesus’ arrest—even if a few hours later he denied ever knowing him. He’s a conflicted character and out of balance without Jesus to steady him.
What of the other Disciple? He was at the cross as Jesus was dying and, at his Master’s express wish, took his mother into his care. I don’t quite know WHAT he believes but clearly he doesn’t yet understand what this is all about.
Are both of them at the tomb to find what they lack within themselves? Later, in the same gospel they have returned to fishing, their occupation before Jesus called them. Have they simply decided to move on, since their discipleship didn’t pan out, or have they intuitively returned to their original encounter with Jesus? From the text itself, I can’t tell.
Or are they like us when we make time for the Lord, but are disappointed when we can’t summon his presence? Don’t we then move on to other things when, perhaps the Lord may be seeking us?
Mary Magdalene is driven out of herself by her longing for Jesus, heedless of what anyone thinks. She just doesn’t give available time to the Lord but all her time. Perhaps that is why she’s the first person to see the Risen Lord.
All these people characterize different ways of relating to the Lord.
There’s another way, and another person whom we last saw at the foot of the cross: the mother of Jesus. The New Testament says very little about Mary, but her two appearances in John’s Gospel are pivotal. This woman, who refused to be discouraged at the wedding at Cana, who steadfastly stood at the cross must have something to say to us, if without words.
Her relationship to her Son, as described by John, is visceral. Concepts do not apply to such an immediate relationship, such an identification between two people; the rapport between the risen Jesus and his mother is as secret and mysterious as it is untold. Is perhaps such an identification already alive, if unrecognized, in the depths of our souls? Could even our neediness awake us to its presence?