On this first week of the Easter season, we will be looking at several of the resurrection appearances, and letting them guide our prayer. May we see the risen Lord and share in His life!

Today’s Bible reading

John 20:11-18

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. 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. 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. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” 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).  Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

More thoughts for meditation

The difference between Peter and John (or the “beloved disciple”), and Mary, is that Peter and John go home in perplexity, while Mary stays, grieving. And she sees the Lord.

What do we have to learn from her example? It is noteworthy that she does not stay because she believes in the resurrection. She has no thought that she ought to believe in the resurrection. She has no hope that she will see Jesus alive again. 

Why does she stay? Is it possible that she stays only out of love for this man who has died? Why would she not stay? Her teacher, her Lord, her friend has died. And now not even his body is there to be given the burial that it deserves.

It’s such a small little bit of hope that she exercises in waiting. Not because she foresaw an outcome that her waiting would bring to her. She merely was not willing to let go of the goodness of a human being, Jesus of Nazareth, and the worthiness of attending to him even in death. Her grief speaks of that goodness. The pain and sorrow testifies to what is lost.

The hope that Mary holds on to is the hope that the worth of a human being might not be measured by how effective he was in life. From the pre-resurrection perspective, Jesus failed to deliver his people. His followers scattered once they saw that. Although Mary has yet to learn of the deliverance that God won through his death, she still holds onto the hope that there is dignity and meaning in her grief and in her obligation to the body of Jesus.

It is small hope, but it is not hope held in vain. God meets her there, and shows her that such hope is only the tip of the iceberg. Our small acts of devotion, in which we treasure what goodness in the world we can find, are small glimpses into the resurrection life that is being birthed in the world.

Suggestions for action

Today, look out for something that is worth protecting or honoring. What goodness do you see in this thing/person/event/etc.? What face of God is turned toward you in that goodness?