Summary: Mary of Magdala searches, Peter examines and makes sure, John believes, and Jesus finds all of them with the gift of a new life, hope, strength and orientation.
Today we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Through his resurrection Jesus becomes Christ to the world. Resurrection is the certainty and proof of the truth of his message. If his message did not contain the eternal truth of human life, his resurrection would not have been possible. In fact Jesus himself does not stand out in the eastergospel (John 20.1-9). It may be so, because we ourselves do not really encounter and walk with the resurrected Jesus in our daily life. Lots of people have questions and doubts. They find it hard to believe the usefullness and relevance of the christian faith in a competetive and market-guided world. In the eastergospel we do not encounter the resurrected Jesus himself. But we have three witnesses to the Resurrection. These witnesses are doors for us, through whom we could encounter the resurrected Jesus.
1. Mary of Magdala. It is characteristic of her to seek the nearness of Jesus. This motive draws her early in the morning to the grave where Jesus was buried. She wanted to be near to the one whom she loved even though he lay in the grave. She does not find him there. He is not to be found in the grave, because he lives in her already in the spirit. How could she find the living among the dead? But she does not understand it well at the moment. She does not give up her search, because Jesus means meaning, hope and happiness in life to her. In her helplessness she turns to the disciples. Mary of Magdala is an example for all christians who do not experience the presence of Jesus in their lives. Like Mary, who did not give up her search, we do not have to turn back when we do not find Jesus in our life. We can turn to others who can help us and together we can try to find the presence of God in our lives. Finding God in our lives when it is difficult to find is also a celebration of Resurrection. We try this out, until He calls us by our name, as in the case of Mary of Magdala. She searched for him, but he called her by her name. Probably he was in search of her. Therefore he was not in the grave. It is God who finds us. He is not dead. He cannot be found among the dead. He searches for us. He calls us by our name and leads us by our hand. Resurrection of Christ is actually the resurrection of the human goodness in our lives.
2. Simon Peter. He was called to be the first of the apostles. Therefore he felt obliged to go to the grave when Mary of Magdala came and reported about the empty grave. He runs to the grave and examines. He realizes that what Mary of Magdala reported was right. Jesus is not in the grave. Peter examines and makes sure. Why? That is the foundation of the christian faith. The identity of our faith has to be preserved. That was his task. That is also the task of his followers -- to examine and to make sure so that even if our faith goes down the grave, it does not remain there, but it comes back to life. Peter and his followers invite us not to confuse our faith with some false ideas or cheap feelings, or reduce it to individual inclinations. The spirit of the faith makes us able to differentiate between good and bad, true and false, just and unjust and life and death.
3. John. The gospel does not mention him in this context by name. He runns faster than Peter, but lets Peter do his job of examining and assuring, and then after Peter he looks into the grave. And we are told that "He saw and believed". What does he see? What can one see in an empty grave? Nothing, actually! But he saw more than that. He saw two things at the same time -- that Jesus was not in the grave and that Jesus was resurrected. He sees the invisible Jesus beyond the visibly empty grave. He believes and experiences the presence of Jesus, the one who loved him. John invites us to believe. Believing is seeing the invisible beyond the externals, so that we come to experience it. He invites us to enter into the mystery of resurrection, so that we may shape our life oriented to our own eternity.
Conclusion. Mary of Magdala searches, Peter examines and makes sure, John believes, and Jesus finds all of them with the gift of a new life, hope, strength and orientation. Though we do not encounter the resurrected Jesus directly in the gospel, we encounter him through the doors of the three figures -- Mary of Magdala, Peter and John. They open the gateways for us to experience the resurrection of Jesus. They invite us to imbibe these qualities in our own faith life, so that we live a resurrected life. We could allow them to give us our orientation, our life-vision, strength and knowledge. That will help us to find our own life in a new light.
I wish you all a happy easter.