Following the more somber time of Lent, Easter bursts upon us with its music, its ambience and its Alleluias! One can only imagine that at the resurrection of Jesus all of earth vibrated!
In the Gospels we will hear various Easter stories about the appearances Jesus made to the disciples after His resurrection, to raise up their hope and their belief in Jesus’ victory over death. One such prominent story is about Mary Magdalene. Early in the morning while it was still dark, and while the disciples had locked themselves in the upper room, we hear that she, and the women who accompanied her, set out for the tomb where Jesus was buried. It seems Mary Magdalen’s love of Jesus and her deep grief at His death was more overwhelming than her fear. How her heart must have sunk when she discovered that even the body of Jesus was no longer there. Then she was startled when an Angel said to her: “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth…he has risen, he is not here…But you must go and tell the disciples and Peter that Jesus has risen from the dead and He is going ahead of you into Galilee, and there you will see Him as He told you.” (Mk 16, 7).
Jesus had already shared with his disciples that after three days He would rise again, but the disciples were not ready then to understand. It took time for this reality to touch their hearts. They were not only locked in the upper room for fear of the Jews after Jesus’ death; their hearts were closed with fear. When Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection, His first words were “Peace be with you!” He was trying to settle their fear. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts?” (Lk 24, 36-38) It was as if He was saying, let your hearts be at peace. I am changed but will still be with you, but in a new way. I leave with you my Spirit, and through this Spirit you will know my presence.
Like Mary Magdalene, we may be so wrapped up in our own thoughts and emotions that we do not recognize the presence of Jesus. But like her, when our eyes and hearts have been opened, we can exclaim, “I have seen the Lord!” (Jn 20, 18).
May you experience the Easter hope and joy of new life!