Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Homily for Easter Tuesday on John 20, 11-18
Duccio di Buoninsegna (c.1255-c.1319) Maestà. Noli Me Tangere (1308-11) Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena, Italy
Mary Magdalene’s love for Jesus draws her to the tomb of Jesus while it is still dark. She discovers that the stone has been rolled away and assumes his body is stolen. She runs to tell Peter and John, they come and see the empty tomb and the burial cloths rolled up neatly. If someone were to rob the grave why would they roll up the burial cloths? Peter and John begin to believe what Jesus had told them about his rising from the dead, but they’re still not sure and so they go home.
Mary Magdalene remains at the tomb weeping. Psalm 34, 19 says “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed.” The monks of the Eastern Church pray for gift of tears. For them it is a sign that the Holy Spirit is alive in their hearts, convicting them of sin and inspiring them to a deeper love and devotion to God.
The first Psalm priests are called to recite each morning in the Liturgy of the Hours is Psalm 95 which contains the words “Oh, that today you would hear his voice: Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert.” Hardness of heart is the greatest obstacle to living an authentic spiritual life.
As Mary is weeping, Jesus begins to reveals himself to her by saying “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Thinking he was the gardener, Mary asks Jesus where he has laid the body. His glorified body appeared different to her. His body was now glorious, immortal and indestructible.
When Jesus calls her by name she recognizes him.She must have begun to hug him since she was so overjoyed, but Jesus says “Do not cling to me. For I have not yet ascended to my Father.”
St. Thomas Aquinas says that Mary had some faith. She calls him by the Hebrew word "Rab-bo'ni" (which means teacher), but she had not yet come to understand that Jesus was equal to the Father and one with God.
St. John Chrysostom says that Mary thought that Jesus was simply in the same state as before his Passion. She thought he was simply resuscitated, still subject to death and would continue life just as before. To correct this impression, Christ says “Do not cling to me. For I have not yet ascended to my Father. St. John says “It was like saying: Although you see me remaining here, it is not because my flesh is not glorified but because I have not yet ascended to my Father. For before he ascended he wanted to strengthen in the hearts of the apostles their faith in his resurrection and in his divinity.”
Jesus then gives Mary a mission to tell his brothers to go before him to Galilee where they will see him. He calls them brothers even though most of them had abandoned him in his darkest hour. He says to tell them “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." He says this because Jesus is the Son of God by nature, whereas we are sons and daughters of God by adoption.
Mary does as Jesus says and tells the Apostles “I have seen the Lord!” Anyone who has a true encounter with the Living Lord in faith will have a need to tell others. They can’t contain themselves. They don’t need to be told to evangelize. Pray that like Mary God will open our hearts that we may be truly sorry for all our sins and that we may have an encounter with the Living Christ in the sacraments. Then, like St. Mary Magdalene, we can lead others to Jesus so that they can experience his love and forgiveness too.