Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag'dalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
Questions for Reflection and/or Discussion
Reading through John’s Gospel account, I am startled mostly by Mary’s and John’s emotional roller coasters. They both loved Jesus so much! Their reactions must have been powerful. John should know; according to Tradition, he was there. Put yourself in their shoes.
First, Mary finds the stone rolled away early in the morning before the sun is up. She intended to give honor to Jesus by visiting His tomb. She likely misses Him and wants to be near. Now she suspects He has been further dishonored when she finds the empty tomb. Did they really take Jesus? How cruel could they be? Fear crosses her mind as she races to the disciples. John runs, too. He can’t believe it. Is he, too, imagining the worst or remembering the promises of Jesus? Jesus had tried to prepare His disciples before His Passion. What did they think?
How many times have I found something unexpected in my life? in myself? in God? and panicked? As women, we can undoubtedly imagine the worst possible scenarios. Do we? Our emotions are our special gift as women, but they can work against us, too. Christ does not want us to look to worldly explanations for crises. He wants us to remember His words. How do I respond to crisis situations or daily challenges? What runs through my mind?
John did not even enter Jesus’ tomb. Even in his torrent of emotion, he remained respectful and honored the Lord’s death. Perhaps he was also stunned and even horrified. I can just imagine the look of shock on his face. Did he remember when Lazarus was raised? Was he doubting it could happen again? Peter believed. What did he believe? In their heart of hearts, did they know He had resurrected? Did their minds still wonder if some further torture had befallen the Lord?
This Gospel ends with confusion. Mary, Peter, and John clearly did not understand. They were confused. How many times are we confused by the web of life’s circumstances? In those times, do we believe in the Resurrection? For, it is to be a daily event, a daily reminder of Christ’s power over sin, over death. Look back over your Lenten experience. Was it fruitful? Almost definitely not as fruitful as it could have been, or maybe as you had intended, but still…
Do I believe in the Resurrection? Every day? Even when it is dark? Even when I don’t understand? Jesus died to save us; He rose to set us free! Praise the Lord Almighty for His great mercy and love. ALLELUIA! HE IS RISEN!
And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here. ~ St. Augustine