Easter Sunday | Year B
It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’
So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
There is debate among scripture scholars about who “the disciple Jesus loved”, also called the “other disciple”, really was. It may have been the apostle John but it is not certain that John was the author of the gospel bearing his name. Whoever the beloved disciple was, he experienced a moment of profound enlightenment on the morning of the first Easter Sunday when he entered the empty tomb – “he saw and he believed”.
The disciple did not see Jesus. He saw the empty tomb. When you have loved someone deeply you share in what happens to them. But in that moment in the empty tomb the darkness of doubt, grief, humiliation, pain and anguish, the product of the previous days, was illuminated by understanding. Jesus whom he loved was not a fraud and he had not disappeared into death – he was the Messiah.
There must have been both joy and relief in that moment of illumination. The sense of being alone in a hostile world vanished. Jesus was still with them.
Joy is the Easter emotion and a gift of the Spirit. We have reason to be joyful on Easter Sunday. The great feast reminds us that we are not alone because Jesus chose to be part of our lives. We have more than our human resources to help us in our journey and we are loved beyond any human love.
One group of disciples chose to disparage and ignore the women who told them about meeting Jesus. The two disciples in this account, Peter and the one Jesus loved, raced to the tomb as soon as they heard what Mary had to say, and they were among the first to experience the joy of the resurrection.
When we are worrying about something we are uncertain about, the temptation is to lock ourselves up in the worry, like the disciples in the room. The best way out of worry, doubt and uncertainty is to do what Peter and the beloved disciple did – seek information. We may find out that our worry is based on a wrong idea, insufficient information, or something that is not going to happen (there is a reason for the saying “crossing our bridges before we come to them”). Even if the information confirms our fears it gives us a solid basis for acting, which can often relieve our worry.
The joy of a burden being lifted from us, a person appearing to help when most needed, the birth of a child, a moment of illumination, the sense of Christ’s presence – these are all small resurrection moments in our lives.
If we become attuned to them we can live Easter every day, and we can bring that joy to others.