Easter Sunday (Ages 6-9): Truth and Understanding
Listen to the Gospel and Reflection
(Adults, begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child, unless the child is a very fluent reader.)
We know that when Jesus is born, a new moment begins in the History of the Kingdom of God. Never before this, throughout all of creation, throughout all the universe and its many wonders, has God become human. Never before has the Creator become one of the Created. This is brand new. And throughout his life on earth, Jesus does many things that have never been done before. But it is the moment after he dies and is buried—the moment of the Resurrection—that changes 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 for a long time the Word of God 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. If we listen when our parents tell someone about something we did together as a family, they might skip some details and change things a bit. We might object. "You're telling it wrong!" But they could tell us, "The story is true; I am telling it so it can be understood." Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John know this. They write about the Resurrection so that we can understand.
So what does St. John want us to understand?
We can look at Mary Magdalene. All four Gospels name Mary Magdalene as one of the people who comes to 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...
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, finding the tomb open confuses her. Jesus' dead body is missing.
We know Mary Magdalene 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 upset her more than the fact that Jesus died. When the two angels dressed in white ask her,
“Woman, why are you weeping?”
Mary Magdalene does not say, "Because my Lord is dead,"
‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’
His body is not where it should be.
This truth upsets her. In fact, it upsets her so much that she does not recognize who asks her next 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.’
Mary Magdalene focuses so hard on the truth that Jesus' body is not where it should be, that she does not understand what the truth means.
She does not ask why. She does not ask why his body is 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!
The truth 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!