At the end of the Gospel reading last Sunday and again on Good Friday, Jesus' dead body is wrapped in linen cloths and put into a tomb. The tomb is a cave cut into rock. A huge stone is rolled in front of the opening. Jesus' body is buried.
But the people who write the Gospels, St. John and St. Mark, St. Matthew and St. Luke, never intend people to stop reading after Jesus is buried! How is that Good News? People die all the time. People's bodies are buried all the time. Jesus' death and burial mean nothing without Easter Sunday. We have to keep reading! On Easter Sunday morning, we hear the account from St. John of what the Resurrection is like.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.
That is unexpected. The stone over the entrance should never ever be removed from a tomb. The stone is there to keep animals out of the tomb. The stone is there to keep the smell of death inside the tomb. Mary Magdalene thinks something is very wrong.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb.
St. John does not tell us the name of the other disciple so we can imagine that it is us. We can imagine running alongside St. Peter to the tomb. What will we see?
The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
(We are faster than St. Peter!) We bend down to look in and see the linen wrappings lying there, but we do not go in.
Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.
Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed
What do we believe? What does an empty tomb mean?
as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
St. John says they do not understand the scripture yet, but we do. We listen to the Word of God all the time. We know why the tomb is empty. Jesus is Risen from the dead, never to die again.
St. John says that Jesus must rise from the dead.
Risen from the dead, he is not just a good person who died.
Risen from the dead, Jesus makes Good Friday GOOD, not bad.
Risen from the dead, Jesus changes everything forever.
Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.
Oops, we almost forgot about Mary Magdalene!
As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.
The angels were not here earlier! At least, we did not see them when we peeked into the tomb. We know that angels work for God. If there are angels are in the tomb, we know it is empty because of something that God has done.
They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
Why does Mary Magdalene not recognize Jesus? To recognize something means to know again. Mary Magdalene knows Jesus in his first life that ends in death. Now she needs to know him again in his new Risen life.
Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).
Now she recognizes him! Mary Magdalene knows him again when he calls her by name. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who,
calls his own sheep by name...and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:3b-4)
Does Jesus only call Mary Magdalene by name? Jesus knows the name of the other disciple! He calls us by name, too. At our Baptism, when the water is poured over our head, he calls by name. Deep within our hearts we hear the voice of the One Who is Risen, calling us to follow. Where will he lead us?