“Why are you weeping?” is the most absurd question Mary has ever heard.
She is there when they nail Jesus to the cross. She sees them lay his body in the tomb. She hears the funereal thud when they roll the stone in place. She comes in darkness, prepared for sorrow, but not for surprise. When she finds the empty tomb, the only reasonable conclusion is that as a final insult, Jesus’ opponents have stolen his body. Why wouldn’t she be weeping?
We weep with her too when we face the darkness of death, when we realize that the best life that ever lived was put to death by the worst that is within each of us.
Then she hears another question, “Whom are you looking for?”
John’s Gospel begins with Jesus asking, “What are you looking for?” (1:38). It’s the question that haunts every human heart, particularly when we face the questions of life and death. What are we really looking for? But now it becomes, “Whom are you looking for?” With personal intimacy Jesus says, “Mary,” and she realizes who he is. The light overcomes the darkness. The One for whom she is searching finds her. Mary announces to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!”
In the risen Christ, what we are looking for finds its answer in the One who finds us. The eternal becomes personal. The hungers of the human soul are not found in what we think or what we do, but in whom we find.
Having come in tears, Mary goes away with joy. She becomes the first person to sing, “You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart!” (umh, no. 310).
Almighty God who raised Jesus to new life, may this be the day we experience the Risen Christ and find in him the answer to the deepest questions of our hearts. Amen.
The readings for Holy Week focus our attention on the sacrifice made by the Messiah. The prophecies in Isaiah speak of it. The Psalms tell of confidence in God even in the midst of betrayal and suffering like that experienced by Jesus. The author of Hebrews celebrates Jesus’ death as the final and perfect sacrifice. Paul describes crucifixion as the center of our teaching as Christians. We follow these events through the eyes of two Gospel writers, particularly John. Jesus foreshadows his death in multiple ways, but even his closest followers struggle to understand and accept its meaning. Why would the Son of God experience such alienation and suffering? It is all for us, the ultimate work of love. But then he conquers the grave! Praise be to God!
Read John 13:21-32. When have you noticed darkness planting seeds of betrayal in your heart? How did you follow Jesus’ light?
Read John 13:1-7, 31b-35. What status symbols do you hold on to that keep you from following Jesus’ example of humble service?
Read Isaiah 53:1-5. On Good Friday, God enters into human suffering. When have you felt God’s presence in your suffering?
Read John 20:1-18. How has Christ found you?
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