The Empty Tomb

Easter Tuesday

John 20: 11-18
Acts 2:36-41 / Ps 33

Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?
(John 20:15)

Let not an empty tomb bring sorrow,
Hope instead for joy tomorrow;
Let all creation stop and listen:
Jesus Christ our Lord is risen!

If Mary of Magdala had only heard what Jesus had said before He was taken by the authorities and crucified, she would have been filled with rejoicing rather than grief upon being confronted by an empty tomb. Instead, she ran to tell Peter and the other apostles what she saw, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him!” (20:2), and they in turn went to investigate. Only John, the apostle closest to Jesus, who had arrived at the tomb ahead of Peter, believed that the Lord had indeed risen when he saw the burial cloths.

Reflection

There are two common “blinders” that prevent us from seeing the truth, even when it is right there under our very noses, or in the case of Mary Magdalene who was looking for Jesus, even when He was standing right in front of her.

The first is our mindset. When we have been preconditioned to expect the familiar and ordinary, we fail to find or “see” the unusual or extraordinary. Mary Magdalene had witnessed the brutal crucifixion and death of our Lord, and in her mind He was already dead. Her grief had made her forget that Jesus had said He would be killed but would rise again on the third day.

The second are the worldly and unnecessary distractions. Women are usually more susceptible to this because of their preoccupation with detail and their emotionalism. Mary Magdalene had prepared the spices, and went early to the burial site. In the Gospel version of St. Mark, the ladies had even worried about who would roll back the large stone covering the entrance of the tomb (Mk.16:3). Her immediate reaction upon seeing the empty tomb was that their enemies (the henchmen of the pharisees or the Roman soldiers) had stolen the body of Jesus. This had so upset her that she started weeping, and only recognized Jesus when He called her name.

Our human limitations always confine our vision to unimportant things. Most times we are incapable of “seeing the big picture.” Often it is our petty concerns that cloud our vision, and make us forget our loftier quest or nobler purpose in life.

Grant us the grace, Lord, to discern the good that will come out of a tragic event, just as an empty tomb is not a loss, but rather the gain of eternal life. Amen.

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