April 1, 2021
Our Gospel reading for Easter Sunday tells us about the first Easter Sunday when St. Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb of Jesus and finds the stone rolled away and no sign of the body of Jesus. She runs to the disciple to tell them and two of them, Peter and the one whom Jesus loved, run to the tomb and find everything just as Mary Magdalene had said. They leave and return to the upper room. Finally, Mary is left alone, standing crying outside the tomb. Then she sees two angels and when she turns around, she sees Jesus but she does not recognize him. Many people think that she does not recognize Jesus because he had been transformed into the Risen Lord but the truth is that she does not recognize him because she has not been transformed.
Mary comes to the tomb looking for the body of her friend Jesus of Nazareth. As long as she is looking for his body she cannot recognize and see the Risen Jesus. At first, she thinks that he is the gardener. After the Risen Jesus calls her name, she then calls him Rabbouni or teacher who he used to be before his death and resurrection. She then tries to hug Jesus but he tells her not to hold on to him, not because he does not love her but because she is clinging on to who he used to be: the teacher and as long as she does that, she can’t experience him as who he is now: the Risen Jesus. Finally, when Mary returns to the disciples, she says that she has seen the Risen Lord. She has been transformed.
Mary has to grow in her faith and change her expectations. The same is true for us as followers of the Risen Lord. We too need to grow in our faith and change our expectation about how God ought to work. It is just like the journey of the butterfly from egg to caterpillar to being in the chrysalis and finally to the butterfly. Mary first met Jesus and their relationship was born, she walked with him in his life and ministry, she was present for his death and the placing of his body in the tomb, and then the first one present for his Resurrection to New Life. She has to let go of the past in order to embrace the present. This pattern reminds us of Jesus himself, born in Bethlehem, his life and ministry in Galilee, his death on the cross in Jerusalem and being put into the tomb and finally his resurrection as the Risen Jesus.
As we enter this Easter season many of us may feel that Lent 2020 never ended and got prolonged to Lent 2021. We are still in the tomb of the pandemic, waiting for vaccines and just about to enter into further lock down measures – when will it end – when will we experience Resurrection and freedom from all this Covid stuff? Even though it may seem we are stuck in the tomb the truth is we need to be open to seeing the growth, new life and transformation that is indeed happening. We have to be willing to let go of who we are in order to accept who we are being called to become. Just like Mary Magdalene, let us continue to grow in our faith this Easter Season by letting go of all the ways we expect God to act and be that prevents us from seeing the Risen Jesus who comes to us every day to bring us his hope and new life.