Twice in today’s Gospel, (John 20:11-18) Mary Magdalen is asked why she is weeping. She has kept vigil at the tomb, grieving the tragic crucifixion and death of Jesus. The man who loved her with great mercy and forgiveness has been taken from her. Now, on top of this grief, the empty tomb represents not resurrection, but an assumption that someone has removed his body and taken it to another location, which simply adds salt to the wound of her grief.
Mary’s grief is an obstacle to belief in the resurrection. Even when the Risen Lord appears to her, she cannot recognize him, even after she encounters the Angels in the empty tomb. It is only when Mary hears the Risen Lord call her by name that she is shaken from her grief into the reality of the resurrection, and recognizes Jesus as “Teacher.”
Jesus gives a somewhat strange instruction to Mary: “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” It would seem that this admonishment deals not with the physical realities as with the emotional and spiritual realities. Mary’s grief in a way was ‘limiting’ Jesus to his earthly reality as man. She was still ‘clinging’ to the earthly body. Now with the resurrection, Mary must ’embrace’ the Risen Lord, along with all of the implications the resurrection holds for every believer.
Jesus is calling her in this resurrection account to move beyond her grief and embrace the new reality of the resurrection. Stated more specifically, Mary is now called to allow the resurrection to bring her into the reality of new life in the Risen Christ. The same is true for us!
The reality of the Resurrection is to impact our lives in a real way. The Risen Lord is with us. Yesterday’s Gospel (Matthew 28:8-15) is true for us today. As The Risen Lord appeared to the women while they were on their way from the empty tomb to announce the good news to the disciples: “Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.” The Risen Lord is even now coming to meet us. The Risen Lord comes with Light, to alleviate our darkness. The Risen Lord comes with Life to give us now the fullness of Divine Life. He comes to us specifically to enter into what causes darkness in our own lives, to bring us the joy and grace and hope of his New Life.
This Octave celebration of Easter is an ongoing invitation of the Risen Jesus for us to let go of all grief, doubt, disillusionment, fear, bitterness, resentment, discouragement, negativity and weariness of life. This is precisely where and how the Resurrection is to impact our personal lives. He is Risen. He has conquered sin and death. In every aspect of our life that causes sadness, he asks us: “Why are you weeping?” The Risen Lord calls us by name. Let us recognize him, welcome him and receive him. Let go of all that he has already healed and forgiven, and receive the Light and Life of the Risen Christ.