The Resurrection of the Lord | Year A
After the sabbath, and towards dawn on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to visit the sepulchre. And all at once there was a violent earthquake, for the angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. His face was like lightning, his robe white as snow. The guards were so shaken, so frightened of him, that they were like dead men. But the angel spoke, and he said to the women, ‘There is no need for you to be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said he would. Come and see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has risen from the dead and now he is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him.” Now I have told you.’ Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.
And there coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him, and falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’
The last time the two Marys saw Jesus alive he was dying on a cross. They had seen him in dreadful agony and been powerless to help. They had stayed close when he was taken to the tomb and had later returned to anoint his body.
The two women had observed the sabbath, and then early the next day they returned to the tomb. What drew them back to it, especially as it was guarded, when the disciples of Jesus were closeted in a room in fear?
To be fair to the disciples, they were men and therefore likely to attract negative attention from the guards. Two women would not have evoked that kind of response, so it was probably much safer for them to visit the tomb.
But safety aside, the women continued to follow Jesus even when he had been placed in the tomb. They exhibited the virtues of faith, hope and love in the darkest hours that any of the followers of Jesus had experienced. Their love for him continued to be strong enough to risk possible action by the guards; their faith in him had not been dimmed by the crucifixion; and they carried the hope in their hearts that he would triumph in some way which they could barely imagine.
These faithful followers of Jesus show us the path as we face adversity in our lives. Adversity can so easily lead to depression or anger if we do not draw on the graces associated with faith, hope and love. Sometimes it can be hard to find our way out of adversity, and God does not seem to act. Often we are, unbeknown to ourselves, seeking a quick fix, band-aid solution to the form of adversity which afflicts us. Perseverance in hope, and faith that Jesus will lead us into a deeper and more lasting solution than we could devise ourselves, may see a deep and intractable problem resolved in a way which is lasting and which contributes to our personal growth.
To live in faith, hope and love is a decision we make about how we will live our lives, not a set of feelings which may or may not be present at any particular time.
Like the women at the tomb, we will come to understand the meaning of the resurrection if we continue to follow Jesus in faith, hope and love, even in adversity or darkness.