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

Jesus appears to Mary in the midst of her grief. It was her grief that made her stay by the tomb. Even if there was no hope of finding Jesus alive, she still might find where his body has been taken. Mary is faithful to reality. She does not turn away from it, go home, or cover up her feelings. Faithfulness to reality is vulnerability – being willing to be affected by life, and all the losses that come with it.

When Jesus sees her with compassion and addresses her, she sees him but does not know who he is. His identity is perhaps hidden by her tears and her downcast face. She thinks he is the gardener, which is not untrue. Jesus is the true gardener who makes everything grow and live. He is the gardener who has become a seed. He has become a part of his garden. He was planted in the ground, broke open, and appears here as the new creation, a truly living thing formed out of the dust of the ground. The first living thing ever to appear on earth.

Grief, what Resmaa Menakem calls “clean pain,” is the beginning of the same process. Our faithfulness to reality, in its joy and pain, is like being planted in the earth, as we accept what we cannot control and change. It breaks us apart like a seed so that we can grow as new, living creatures. 

It seems that a part of this process involves a lack of understanding, as Mary did not know the Lord when he first spoke to her within her grief. A seed starts in the darkness of the earth. But already the germ of new life is present within it, ready to burst into a song of thanksgiving.  

Suggestions for action

Pray: Lord, what transformation are You working in me? Give me the grace to welcome your creative activity in my life. Teach me the sufficiency of Your love.