APRIL 22, 2014 - TUESDAY OF EASTER WEEK

ACTS 2:36-41; JOHN 20:11-18

The Gospel account we have just heard is surely high drama expressed with an economy of description.  For the encounter of the Risen Lord Jesus with Mary Magdalene in the garden, using the simplest language, abruptly introduces each of us along with Mary, into a new world.  The risen Christ, though not as yet ascended to his heavenly Father, lives in a transcendent world.  He is not subject to the familiar laws of this universe and is confident of that fact.  As the Lord tells Mary, he has not as yet ascended to the Father, implying that he will be doing just that soon.  The change of mood that his living presence effects is strikingly portrayed as Mary, who had been weeping, upon hearing the Lord speak her name, joyously casts herself before him and seeks to embrace his knees.  However, she is restrained by the Savior who makes it clear that he no longer belongs to this world in the old familiar way.  He does not permit her even to touch him: the Latin text puts it in a striking phrase: Noli me tangere (Touch me not), he warns her.  Seemingly, he is making the point that in his risen state he belongs to the Father in an altogether new manner.  Significantly, in this same chapter, after he had returned to the Father, and appeared to his apostles, Jesus invited Thomas to touch him, putting his hand in his wounded side, to assure himself that the Lord's body is not a mirage, but flesh and blood.  Having entered the room, however, by passing through a closed door, he had just demonstrated that his risen body was no longer subject to the physical laws of this universe.  Real as he is, Jesus makes the point, first to Mary Magdalene, then to his closest collaborators, that he no longer belongs to this world in the old familiar way.  At the same time, he is accessible to those who are attached to him by faith in him in this transcendent state.  Later, at the time of Paul's conversion, Jesus goes further when he affirms, in a declaration that remains a source of confident trust for us today, that he identifies himself with his faithful.  In persecuting his followers Paul, he declares, is attacking not only men and women but the person of the Lord Jesus.  "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (Acts 9:4)

This word of the glorified Christ has major implications for each of us at this liturgy this morning.  The Lord ascended to the Father whence he had been sent prior to taking a human body in the womb of Mary.  This made possible his death, soon followed by the resurrection in which he took on a new mode of existence.  This risen state, as we heard in the first reading, enables him to be present to his faithful followers without ceasing to remain fully present to the Father in the Holy Spirit.  Peter announces in his first sermon to the Jews that this presence of the glorified Savior was evidenced in the apostles and other faithful present in the upper room through the Spirit Jesus had promised to send.  He goes on to affirm that this promise is being made not only to the Jews but as well to "all those who are far off whom the Lord will call to himself", that is, to us present here this morning.  By our participation at the Eucharistic gathering on this Easter day, we join the long series of Christians who put their faith in the Risen Lord Jesus.  His living presence among us here at our altar is the basis for the firm conviction of sharing one day his risen life in the loving presence of the eternal Father.  This is the true meaning of our Easter celebration at this Eucharist sacrifice.



Abbot John Eudes Bamberger