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Archive for April 1st, 2020


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

John 20:11-13

Mary Magdalene cave[1]At the empty tomb: Where the body had been . . .

Mary 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.

When life presents us with circumstances that confuse our senses, how do we bring reality into focus?  What strategies do we employ; what philosophy do we invoke?

When family or friends hurt or disappoint us, how do we recover?  How do we regain our sense of well-being or at least regain our footing?

When we suffer a loss that is too great to handle, how do we move forward?  To whom or to what do we turn?

It is likely that Mary Magdalene has been anxious for weeks as she followed Jesus in his preamble to death.  She has served him, listened to him, talking with him and sat with him.  She must have sensed that their lives would change inexplicably and forever.  As events have unfolded she has winced with every insult, died a small death with every curse, and somehow handled the gnawing dread that all was going horribly wrong . . . yet the Teacher had remained so calm, so focused, so compassionate . . . and so determined.

What were the conversations among the women that took place on that Sabbath that bridged Good Friday and Easter Sunday?  What had they discussed?  Did they unravel the horror they had witnessed?  It is likely they had tried to prepare themselves, but this . . . this disappearance . . . this mysterious end was more than she could take in.  Had someone taken the body away?  How deep was the hatred against the Teacher?  How narrow were the minds of Jesus’ single-minded persecutors?  And now . . . was she really seeing two angels seated calmly in the tomb?

One at the foot.  One at the head.  Exactly where the body had been.  She knows she will remember this detail forever. She knows she is not mistaken.  This is the tomb.  That is where the body lay.  What does this mean?  Who are these creatures and what have they come to tell her?  Suddenly a new fear explodes within. Will she be able to bear any more bad news?  Will they know where Jesus’ body has been taken?  What have these creatures come to tell her and why do they sit so tranquilly?

Gian Girolamo Savoldo: Mary Magdalene Approaching the Tomb

Gian Girolamo Savoldo: Mary Magdalene Approaching the Tomb

Suddenly one of them speaks – asks a question, actually – and she realizes that the voice is consoling and almost sweet; yet strong and steady.  Why are you weeping?” 

No, this unearthly creature does not understand.  Another hope dies as she attempts to explain: “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they have laid him”.

It is too much to bear and so she turns away, crying openly now that she has been forced to put into words her greatest fear: She had reconciled herself to having lost Jesus in life, and now she must deal with losing him in death.  She will not even have a grave she can visit and remember . . .

Mary gathers herself as she has done so often in her life.  She turns . . .

Tomorrow, the continuing reflection at the empty tomb . . .


Images from: http://metanoia-mrc.blogspot.com/2011_04_01_archive.html and https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/giovanni-girolamo-savoldo-mary-magdalene

A re-post from Easter Week 2013.

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