Reflections on the readings for Sunday, April 9, 2023
The Sunday of the Resurrection - Easter Day
(Your parish may occasionally opt to use different readings.)
I know of no more wonderful reflection on today's Easter Gospel than a passage given to us by Fr. Ron Rolheiser in his book The Holy Longing. Even if it is familiar to you, let it be my Easter present.
Rolheiser asks the question "What lies behind Jesus' reluctance to let Mary touch Him?” Then he offers his answer. "Mary herself, had we ever found her gospel, would I suspect, explain it this way…"
I never suspected Resurrection,
and to be so painful,
To leave me weeping with joy to have met you,
Alive and smiling outside an empty tomb.
With regret, not because I've lost you
but because I’ve lost you in how I had you -
in understandable, touchable, kissable, clingable flesh
Not as fully Lord, but as graspably human.
I want to cling, despite your protest,
cling to your body,
cling to your, and my, clingable humanity
cling to what we had, our past.
But I know that… if I cling
you cannot ascend
And I will be left clinging to your former self…
unable to receive your present spirit.
The Holy Gospel
This Gospel passage tells us of the encounter between the risen Jesus and the young woman Mary of Magdala. It does so in the most vivid and intimate way.
We will never know what Mary saw in that outer chamber of the tomb but we do know that when she drew back from the darkness she saw a figure in the dawn light. A voice says her name and her world explodes. Her instinct is to hold him, to never lose him again. He gently but firmly refuses the gesture. Her Lord possesses her in a way she can never now possess him. And, she is wise and sensitive enough to realize this.
When they part, she returns to the disciples. This time she comes calmly, with a new sureness and dignity. She doesn’t just say she has seen the Lord, she announces it. "I have seen the Lord”. Probably she didn’t even have to say the words. They had only to look at her to see that it was true.
Michael Mayne has written a magnificent commentary on Easter ...
“Men and women do not rise from the dead. But neither does a faith, sparked off by a small group of disillusioned men and women, catch fire and spread until it changes the world, unless something quite extraordinary and totally unexpected happened in that remote part of the Roman Empire.
If we simply put our faith in reason and common sense, with Jesus as an example of Christian life, we are nibbling at the edge of the Gospel. We ignore the fact that without the experience of Easter there would be no Gospel. No Church, no sacraments, no story worth telling, no hope. Whatever the truth of the empty tomb, the upper room, the breakfast by the lakeside, something wholly new took place , lives were profoundly changed , and, (to those whose eyes were opened) both life and death are redefined. It is as if in the light of Easter, we stand with one foot in time and one foot in eternity, for it is in the risen Christ that we catch the scent of what God is and what we might be.”