Jesus Appears To Mary Magdalene by Rembrandt

Our Easter Octave continues …

In today’s Gospel, we continue reading the resurrection story from the Gospel of John. We learn that when the Risen Jesus appeared to Mary, she did not recognize him, but rather mistook him to be the gardener. Let’s take a closer look at both of those reactions in our lives. (John 20: 14-15)

“She did not recognize him.” How often do we not recognize the Risen Jesus in our lives? How do our preconceived notions about God, or our own human experience close our eyes to the mysterious ways the LORD continues to abide with us?

What is it about our human condition that is so focused on ‘self’ that we are soon bored with the reality of God, of Jesus, and of the wonder of the Resurrection? While there are no doubt many answers to these questions, there is one underlying, fundamental answer which tradition calls Original Sin. Clearly, this is the wound Christ through the Incarnation, death and Resurrection came to heal.

It seems the Easter Day we celebrate from now till next Sunday is an invitation to spend time in the garden with the Risen Jesus. This is our response which is required to ‘better recognize’ the Risen One. Yes, in his Risen Glory, Jesus has taken on the glory of God in all of its brilliance. But how is he in this Risen Glory present to each of us? within each of us? This is precisely where we are called to recognize Jesus today.

At a profoundly deep level within every human heart, we are called to go back to the ‘beginning’ where our relationship with Jesus begins, to that moment before time when we were called into being by God.

St. Paul says it like this in the Letter to the Ephesians: (1:4-5) God blessed us in Christ, and chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. This ‘moment’, this ‘reality’, lies deeply within our souls.

She mistook him to be the gardener …

Keeping in mind our origins in Christ, we then begin to understand that Christ IS the Gardener, sent into the world to tend the soul of humanity. With great love, Christ has come to till the soil of our souls to ‘unearth’ our true beauty and potential as originally envisioned by God. While tending to each of us individually, he is also cultivating the garden of humanity as a whole, sowing the seeds of a better world and society.

St. Peter in his First Epistle says it this way: (!:22 ff) “Your rebirth has come, not from a destructible but from an indestructible seed, through the living and enduring Word of God.”

Easter – the Resurrection, is ongoing. The Master Gardener is at work. Take time today – each and every day – to pray – to spend time with the Risen Jesus. He will help us better know our God-given dignity. He will help us live well our life in Him and His life in us. When we learn what our human dignity and freedom truly entails, and how to live it individually, and recognize and respect it in others, then we will be true laborers in the vineyard, building a stronger society and a better world.

St. Peter’s Epistle goes on to speak of what this ‘new world’ will look like, and what our role now requires: “Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves by built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2: 4-5)

As the earth re-awakens under the rays of the Spring sun, may the souls of every human person re-awaken under the rays of the Risen Son. As the earth awakens and brings forth new life, may every human heart re-awaken under the grace of the enduring and indestructible seed of the Master Gardener, Jesus Christ.

Christ is truly Risen! Alleluia!

Happy Easter!