The glorious resurrection of the Lord is the essence, the central reality of the Catholic faith.

The gospel started with “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark”. This is similar to the Book of Genesis where creation is depicted; “and there was evening, and there was morning – the first day (Gen 1:5b).  The first day of the week, the day that comes after Saturday, is the first day of the new creation.  Echoing Paul’s declaration that in the death and resurrection of Jesus we are experiencing a new creation, “everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

(2 Corinthians 5:17)

Mary Magdalene waited for Saturday to pass. It is an observance of the law to perform no activity, a day of strict observance and so she went to the tomb on the first day of the week when it was still dark.

What is the meaning of this “dark”?  It portrays darkness, obscurity, a lack of understanding.  Mary saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb, the stone that separated the Kingdom of the dead from the one of the living.  Jesus could have easily left the tomb without removing the stone but God our Father has opened the way for us to enter. To enter into a relationship with Him.  Are we eager to enter into a new life with Christ or will we continue to stand outside, waiting?

In the story of Jesus raising the dead Lazarus, Lazarus was brought out of darkness into light, the terms ‘tomb’, ‘stone’, ‘burial clothes, ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’ were used as well in this gospel reading.  Interestingly, after raising Lazarus, Jesus turned to Martha and said ‘If you believe, you will see the glory of God’.  In today’s gospel, the disciples did not yet believe in the Resurrection. They merely believed that the body was gone and they did not know where it was. “For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he (Jesus) must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9). There are two different ways of “seeing”. Peter who sees with his physical sight, John, whom Jesus loved sees with an inner sight, “he saw and believed”. In order to be able to see, we must perceive the Resurrection of Jesus. Physical sight is not enough, but an inner experience is needed. John, the first to enter the tomb, the one who was next to Jesus during the Last Supper. The disciple who was at the foot of the cross at Golgotha, ready to die for him and here in this passage, the disciple that will first experience Jesus’ Resurrection. The one who acts out his love is able to experience a quality of life which is able to overcome all odds.

Let’s look at the opening of John’s gospel; Jesus’ first words is a question directed at the disciples of John the Baptist, “What are you looking for?” (John 1:38) Later, in this new beginning, this new creation, Jesus asks Mary the very same question, “Whom are you looking for?” (John 20:15) A new ministry is beginning, a new story.

The second reading (Col 3:1-4) reminds us that “since you have been brought back to life in Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is”. When Christ is revealed to you, just as He revealed himself to the disciples after His resurrection, you too will receive all the glory with Him.

When Jesus speaks to Mary, she does not recognize him because she is not looking for him. She does not expect him to be alive. Often in life, good things come our way, but we do not recognize them because we are looking for something else, expecting something else.

Jesus then calls her by name and instantly Mary recognizes him. “The sheep recognize the Shepherd’s voice” (John 10:3-4). In turn, she responds, “Rabbouni!” In first century Judaism, teachers commanded immense respect from their students. Mary shows him this respect. Secondly, Mary was not merely a student but a devoted follower. Her coming to Jesus’ tomb early in the morning spoke of her commitment. Finally, her tears when she thought his body had been stolen demonstrated her love for her teacher. The “Rabbouni” was not merely “Teacher” but transcend to “My Beloved Teacher.” In the first creation story God drove Eve and Adam out of the garden. In this new creation Jesus sends Mary out of the garden rejoicing. She is sent out to tell everyone the darkness has not overcome the Word made flesh that dwelled among us.

When we encounter the risen Lord, it must change our lives. The grief of Mary Magdalene turned into a mission: to go and tell the disciples giving hope.

The fear of the disciples turned into joy and gladness when Jesus appeared in their midst. Thomas’ doubts turned into belief. Jesus’ resurrection changed the disciples’ lives from frightened deserters in hiding to dynamic leaders of the new church evangelising publicly. We who believe in the risen Lord, are called to imitate the disciples; “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” (Mark 6:50).

The Resurrection of Christ is a powerful call to discipleship.  We are to be His light and we are called to bring His light to others. To do so, we look at St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: Instaurare omnia in Christo’ (Eph 1:10) ‘to fill everything with the spirit of Jesus, placing Jesus at the centre of everything.

Jesus Christ lives and He crowns us with joy and happiness.  Jesus has triumphed over death; he has overcome sorrow, anguish and the power of darkness. In Him is everything. In Him is life.  Outside of Him, there is no life.

Our Lord has risen, is this good news to you?  The good news is that there is life, joy, peace and hope here and now, and in the future. That God is our past, present and future.

The Lord is truly risen, Alleluia. To Him be glory and power for all the ages of eternity, Alleluia, Alleluia!

With love and gratitude,

Margie and Letitia

Questions for Reflection

The Lord is truly risen, Alleluia. To Him be glory and power for all the ages of eternity, Alleluia, Alleluia!