APRIL 07, 2015 -
Acts 2:-36-41 ; John 20:11-18
CHRIST IS RISEN! He is truly risen. For centuries to the present day Catholic and Orthodox faithful, especially in the Russian and other Churches of the East greet one another with these joyous words. It required a while for May Magdalene and the apostles to arrive at the same conviction and joyous state of mind.
Perhaps the most intriguing phrase in today's Gospel is that Mary Magdalene bent over then she was able to see two angels who told her the mystery of the disappearance of Christ's body. What gives an air of mystery to this incident is that there is no follow through. The angels have no message for her; they simply ask why she is weeping. She draws no conclusion from finding the tomb empty of the body of Jesus. So that when she does encounter him she fails to recognize him by sight or even by voice when he asks what she is seeking. Only when our Lord addresses her by name does she finally attain to recognition of her Master. Why does Saint John record in such detail these very human features of Mary's experience? There are many passages in this same Gospel where the same kind of questions naturally arises. There are important truths that John does not mention, not least of all the whole of our Lord's birth in the flesh of the Virgin Mary. The commentators simply tell us he took it for granted, and that is surely the reasonable solution. Yet for those who knew only this Gospel how fundamental a point of faith remained unknown unless some oral tradition was brought to their knowledge.
It would seem that John's manner of presenting the message of our Lord's life and the mystery of his death and resurrection might best be understood when we consider that he had such a personal awareness of the Risen Lord that it influenced his way of experiencing life. The great truth made evident in John's Gospel is that the same Jesus who lived as a man among friends and foes lives now in a glorified state, with the same but transfigured body. Mary Magdalene in the garden came to that same certitude that is a matter of faith and experience.
In the first reading we are reminded that Peter, who had earlier proved to be weak in faith, had become no less strong in his witness than John and the Magdalene. There is no trace of former weakness as he confronts many influential Jews after Pentecost. He accosts them bluntly with their guilt and gains their respect by his whole manner. The surprising result is that a large number of former enemies of Christ are converted to faith in him.
The power of the Risen Lord is still present in this world as it was in the early Church and ever since through the ages. It is a hidden force as it was from the first, for God chose it to be accessible only to trusting faith. At the Eucharist we are to offer here we are invited to activate our faith with confident trust. May each of us receive that gift of Divine love.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger