“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him” (Jn 20:2). All of us at some point in our lives would have had the experience of having lost something or even misplaced an item. The emotions that accompany such times depend on how valuable that “lost” item may have been. It may not be valuable in terms of price but at times they are valuable because of the memories that are attached to them. I have had experiences of losing sleep when I cannot find something that I had been looking for the whole day and as you grow older, these “senior moments” are no longer few and far apart. But there is always a great joy when you rediscover it at some point.
Each of the gospels has a description of how the disciples discovered the empty tomb and also accounts of appearances of the Risen Jesus. Today we are presented John’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb. The account gives a prominent role to Mary Magdalene, who down the centuries people would refer to as ‘the apostle to the apostles’. Rushing to arrive at the tomb of Jesus, Mary Magdalene must have thought that she was having a “senior moment” – Is this the correct tomb? Who could have rolled the stone away? After all, it was very early in the morning and it must have been quite dark.
It is in such darkness and confusion that the dread realisation slowly dawns on Mary Magdalene – the tomb is empty and the Lord is truly gone… not even a body to cry over. When she runs to Simon Peter and says ‘they have taken Him away’, she even assumes foul play – someone had stolen the body of Jesus.
However, it is in her moment of grief that she will go on to encounter the brightest light – Jesus, the Risen Christ. When she is at her lowest ebb, when everything seems lost, nothing to hold on to except for memories, the rising sun is about to dawn on her. Hearing Jesus call her, ‘Mary’, she suddenly realised it is the Lord! Grief is replaced with joy, darkness with light, disillusionment with anticipation and fear with courage. She now goes to the apostles and preaches the first Easter sermon – He is Alive!
At every Easter, like how Jesus called out to Mary, He calls us, by name. He calls us to be purified by the fire of love as we carry the light. He calls us to trust in His promise as we listen to the history of salvation. He calls us to renew our faith as we approach the waters of life and finally, He calls us to the banquet that brings us eternal life.
Jesus brings new meaning to our lives because He is neither a memory nor someone from the ancient past. He is alive and He is with us and because of that, we can always look forward to the unknown future with hope. In the words of Corrie Ten Boom, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God” (The Hiding Place).
When Mary Magdalene and the companions of Jesus rediscovered Him, a new vigour dawned on them and their lives were never the same again. All that Jesus had taught them now comes to life. Likewise, this Easter must be our time to renew our hope in God and enkindle the faith in us for “faith is like a bright ray of sunlight. It enables us to see God in all things as well as all things in God” (St. Francis de Sales).
At this time when most things look bleak, gloomy and uncertain all around the world, we must open our eyes to see the Risen Christ in all things and embrace all things in Him who gives us everything. For this reason, Easter must resound hope because ‘Christ’s resurrection is the true hope of the world, the hope that does not disappoint’. Today we need to hear once again the first Easter sermon… He is Alive! Blessed Easter everyone. Amen