(Adults, you could begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
We know that Jesus died on the cross and now he is Risen to new life, never to die again. We have known this for a long time. In fact, we have always known it, have we not? In the Gospel for Easter Sunday—the first Sunday of the Easter season—we hear about the first person to know that Jesus is Risen.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb
It is Sunday, the first day of the week. Yesterday was the Sabbath day, the holy day for the Jewish people. The Sabbath day is holy time. Jewish people do not work but stay home, spending time with family and praying to God. So, on the Sabbath, Jesus' friends stay home. But now, when the Sabbath day is over, Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus' close friends, comes to the tomb.
We might wonder why Mary Magdalene visits the tomb, that cave made out of rock. Perhaps Mary Magdalene wants to feel close to Jesus because she loves him. But she knows it will never be the same, because he is dead. She saw Jesus die on the cross and she knows that his dead body has been put in the tomb. People rolled a huge stone in front of the opening.
What does Mary Magdalene expect to see at the tomb?
She expects to find the tomb closed with the huge stone covering the opening.
Instead, she finds that,
the stone had been removed from the tomb.
The tomb is wide open! Tombs and graves are not supposed to be left open. Mary Magdalene knows that this is not right. This is not how we show respect for people who have died.
But where is Jesus?
His dead body should still be lying in the tomb, but it is not there. The tomb is empty.
What does Mary Magdalene think?
She runs to tell two of Jesus' disciples that she thinks someone has,
‘taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’
She thinks that someone has removed Jesus' dead body and has buried it somewhere else. How can she visit the place where he is buried if she does not know where it is?
What does Mary Magdalene do?
Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.
She is already upset because Jesus has died, and now his body is lost. She does not know where Jesus is. We wonder if Mary Magdalene feels lost.
But what do we know the Good Shepherd does when a sheep is lost?
he finds it (Luke 15:4)
So, at that moment, Mary Magdalene
turned round and saw Jesus standing there
Jesus was dead, but now he is alive! The Good Shepherd lives!
Now we know that not even death can stop the Good Shepherd from finding his sheep!
Jesus is no longer dead! Jesus is Risen to new life, never to die again!
But there is still a problem.
she did not know that it was Jesus.
Mary Magdalene does not seem to know who he is. She does not expect to see Jesus alive. She thinks he must be a gardener.
So what does Jesus do?
Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’
He calls her by name.
We know that the Good Shepherd,
calls his own sheep by name...and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:3b-4)
Now Mary Magdalene knows who he is. She knows his voice.
Now Mary Magdalene knows what we know—that he is Jesus who is Risen.
Happy Easter! God bless you!