Easter Sunday (Ages 6-9): Not Where it Should Be
6-9 year olds
(Adults, begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child, unless the child is a very fluent reader.)
We know that when Jesus was born, a new moment began in the History of the Kingdom of God. Never before, throughout all of creation, throughout all the universe and its many wonders, had God become human. Never before had the Creator become one of the Created. This was new. And throughout his life on earth, Jesus did many things that had never been done before. But it is the moment after he died and was buried--the moment of the Resurrection--that changed things forever.
The Resurrection of Jesus is so important that it is one of the few moments in Jesus' life that all four Gospels include. Not all four have his birth. But Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all tell of his death and they all tell of his Resurrection.
The four accounts of the Resurrection are not identical. We have to remember that the Word of God for a long time existed only in the voices of the people who would tell what they had seen and what they had heard and what they knew to be true. And it is pretty normal for different people to tell the same story differently. I remember listening to my mum tell a friend about something our family had done and she skipped some details and changed things a bit. I told her that she had told it wrong. She said, "The story is true, I am telling it so it can be understood." That's what Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did. They wrote about the Resurrection so that it could be understood.
So what does John want us to understand?
Let's look at Mary Magdalene. She is the one person named in all four Gospels as being at the tomb.
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. 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.’
Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb expecting to find it closed with the stone in front of the opening. She does not expect to see Jesus because she knows he died. She knows his dead body was put in the tomb, and the tomb was sealed shut. So, when she finds the tomb open, she is confused. Jesus' dead body is missing. We know she is confused because she says to the disciples,
‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’
In fact, her confusion seems to be more upsetting to her than the fact that Jesus died. When the two angels dressed in white ask her why she is weeping, she does not say, "because my Lord is dead," but because,
‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’
His body is not where it should be.
She is so upset about this truth. In fact, she is so upset that she does not recognize who it is that next asks her why she is weeping:
When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ 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.’
She is so focused on the truth that Jesus' body is not where it should be that she doesn't understand what the truth means.
Mary Magdalene doesn't ask why. She doesn't ask why is his body not where it should be?
Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher).
Only when he calls her by name does she realize who he is.
Only when he calls her by name does she know that everything has changed forever.
Only when he calls her by name does she understand.
The truth--that his body is not where it should be--is Good News.
His body is not where it should be because Jesus is Risen!
It means God's life is stronger than death.
Like Mary Magdalene, we are called by name in Baptism.
Like Mary Magdalene, we realize who he is.
Like Mary Magdalene, we know that everything has changed forever.
Like Mary Magdalene, we understand.
Happy Easter! God bless you!