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Easter Reflection

April 12, 2012

John 20:1-9

Today’s gospel reading is about what Easter was like for Jesus’s friends.  Mary Magdalen went to weep at his tomb, but his body, which they had so lovingly anointed for burial, was not there.  She must have been bewildered and frightened.  The tomb was eerily empty, as if soldiers or body-snatchers had violated it and taken Jesus’s body.  Mary ran to get Peter and John.  Peter ran into the tomb and seems to have thought as Mary did that Jesus’s body had been stolen.  But John, perhaps Jesus’s best friend, somehow knew—“he saw and believed” that Jesus had not been taken away, but had risen to new life on his own power.

So this gospel is about seeing and not seeing, knowing and not knowing, believing and not yet believing.  “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.”  Jesus had died, and the only experience His friends and we have had of other deaths is the total helplessness and apparent absence that follows death.  We long to talk with our parents, siblings, or friends who have died.  We long to hear their voices and feel their embrace in response to our tears and words.  But they seem to be gone.

Only faith like John’s assures us that they have entered not oblivion but new life,  that they are not absent but very near although we cannot see or hear them.  A little later, on that Easter morning, Jesus will walk again into the lives of his loved ones in his own body, now glorified in spite of its terrible death—the same glorified living body we receive in the Eucharist.  They will touch him and talk with him, eat with him, and thus strengthen their faith and ours, the faith they pass down to us through the scripture, the liturgy, and the church’s teaching.  We do not see as they came to see, but we know through faith that He lives and holds in life our beloved ones who have died, and all of us who live.  Alleluia!

 

Sr. Mary Clemente Davlin, OP

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