Acts 2:36-41; Ps 33:4,5,18-20,22; Jn 20:11-18
All during this “Bright Week” the liturgy summons us to rejoice and be glad, yet the crowds who listen to Saint Peter are deeply shaken and even the Gospel of John has Mary Magdalene weeping beside the tomb. What happened to the Easter Joy? Why are the crowds shaking with fear? Why is Mary weeping in grief?
Saint Peter addresses a crowd of people who have waited for generations in expectation that God’s word is worthy of trust. The people of the covenant did hope for his kindness to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine. When they heard Saint Peter preaching that they had been blind to his coming and had chosen to crucify him, then they wept, deeply shaken. Still, The One sent from the Father wanted them to see in his crucified and risen body the fulfillment of Abba’s kindness. In raising Jesus from the dead and preserving his life unto eternity, my Father and your Father, my God and your God has fulfilled the promise. The good news of Jesus’ resurrection becomes the good news of our share in the promise Abba fulfilled in his faithful Son. Today, this is still our Easter message, still good news for all that accept baptism and receive the Holy Spirit! God wants everyone whose blind disobedience crucified his Son to see in his Risen Son a whole new way to live in obedience out of love, not out of fear.
Mary Magdalene, too, is blind in the darkness of unfaith and in her weeping, she cannot see the truth of the resurrection in the sign of the empty tomb, even after her dialogue with the angels in dazzling robes. The Risen Christ must ask what the angels asked: Woman, why are you weeping? Mary’s response reveals her unfaith; she is worried about the body of her Lord and she sees only a gardener questioning her. Such lack of sight is exposed as the Risen Christ calls out her name, Mary. This now familiar voice must belong to her Teacher and she cries out, “Rabboni!” However, this is only a partial faith, and this old way of understanding Jesus must end. Mary and all the followers of Jesus must not cling to their Teacher. In the same way we must look beyond the empty tomb and the resurrection appearances to see THE LORD. Mary and the early church lived in a transitional time between the resurrection and the ascension. Now that he is at the right hand of the Father we can see him in perfect faith, see him as he is, The LORD whose kindness fills the earth and all creation.
The bright glory of the resurrection still gives sight to all that come from the darkness of unfaith through a partial faith and into perfect faith. The crowds were afraid that their blindness would ruin everything, and Mary was afraid that her Lord’s tomb had been vandalized. The same fearful blindness darkens our daily living. We are afraid that our sinful past and our blind present will never let us see The Lord. Yet, it is the Lord himself who comes to meet us in our darkness of unfaith and partial faith; Jesus the Lord comes to meet us in every Eucharist. Meeting Jesus in the sacrament of his death and resurrection becomes the promise of new life when finally in obedient faith we can announce: “I have seen the Lord!”