After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’(Matthew 28: 1-10 NRSV)
Alleluia. Christ is Risen.
The Lord is Risen indeed. Alleluia.
Imagine what the experience of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary must have been like. They took the risk of going to the tomb of Jesus full of sadness that carried over from Good Friday. The earthquake must have been frightening enough. But, to see angels and hear them say, “He is not here; for He has risen…” ; who would not be a bit skeptical?
Every Easter when I read and hear those words, I get goose bumps along with joy and relief. It is a bit like years ago before there were cellphones or internet to talk with people in other countries; when suddenly we would get a phone call from a relative we had not heard from in years. There is a sense of “They are way over there, and we can talk to them here.” The difference here, of course, is that the Risen Jesus is very close by. I am sure for Mary and Mary hearing the news was something they may have questioned for a little bit, but eagerly went to tell the Disciples.
In The Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 49 The Observance of Lent, he wrote that we do the acts of self-denial and fasting, “and look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing’ (RB:1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in Latin and English, p.253).
This is the holy Easter we have been longing for. If this Easter fills us with joy; imagine what it will be like when we finally see the face of the Risen Jesus in Heaven. On the other hand, what the contemplative does is looks for the Risen Christ in everything and everyone around us. To be a contemplative, means to seek the face of the Risen Christ in those ordinary moments of life. In our work. In our families. In our neighbor. In our communities. In those moments of deep personal suffering. In that moment when we could leap for joy because of a new born child or a birthday present. In all of these instances, the Risen Christ who only three days earlier identified with all of our human suffering in His crucifixion. In His Resurrection, Jesus tells us and shows us that human suffering has met its match. It is not a power unto itself for the sake of itself. Jesus does not take it away. Jesus walks through it with us, and raises us up in newness of life.
How are you experiencing the Resurrection on this Easter Day?
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB