“Woman, why are you weeping?” (John 20:13).
Acts 2:36-41; John 20:11-18
Today’s Easter story about Mary of Magdalen at the tomb is a story about coming to faith and about the mysterious transformation we call the resurrection.
Mary comes to the tomb early. It is still dark, and this describes both the time and her mental state. She is in the dark about what is happening to her beloved teacher Jesus. She finds an empty tomb. She runs to tell Peter and another disciple, presumed to be John, and they run to see the empty tomb. The sun is rising and their faith, still incomplete, is beginning to dawn. They leave, but Mary remains at the tomb. Two angelic messengers ask her why she is weeping.
As the scene unfolds, Jesus is there, but Mary does not recognize him. Only when he says her name, “Mary,” does she realize it is Jesus and that he is alive. She tries to hold him, but he tells her not to because, though he is risen, he has not yet ascended to the Father.
In these words, we are given a glimpse into the resurrection at its earliest stage, from death to restored life, from life to transformation into the Life of God. Events in time and place now pass into an eternal and universal state that opens human history to a new destiny, ultimate life in God. Jesus is the pioneer of that destiny, the first born from the dead, our older brother going before us.
The focus of Easter is not just what happened to Jesus, but what is happening for all of us. Risen life begins now in the way we are invited to live as followers – imitators – of Jesus. As he emptied himself for us, died to himself for the sake of us, so are we to offer our lives in the care and service of others. This is our preparation for our own stage-by-stage transformation. Now living a hidden life in Christ, we will someday be revealed with him in glory. Let nothing hold us back. Faith dawns, and we see the Lord everywhere.