A few weeks ago after we celebrated the Resurrection of the Lord, most of us have gone back to a normal routine. We have families to take care of, school to attend, jobs to do; studying, working, recreation and hopefully we are all still going to Church!
A lot has taken place over these last few weeks. The story we hear today tells us what our friends, the disciples, the Apostles and the women were doing during the time Jesus was in the tomb:
What was going on?
Matthew: “Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb (Matthew 28:1).”
Or – In Mark: on the day Mary Magdalene, along with Mary the mother of James, and Salome, went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus: “Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen (Mark 16:2).”
Or again in Mark: it was the day on which Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection: “Now when He rose early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons (Mark 16:9).”
In Luke: on the day which an unspecified number of Galilean women visited Jesus’ tomb: “Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared (Luke 24:1).”
Or John: The day on which Mary Magdalene visited the tomb: “On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb (John 20:1) “ So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So: Peter and the other disciple set off at once for the tomb, the two of them running together. The other disciple ran faster than Peter and was the first to arrive at the tomb (John 20:4).”
John: The time after Jesus’ resurrection when He appeared to His disciples: “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19).”
This is also the story of Thomas, which we heard last week. It also takes place “On the evening of that first day of the week…” and tells us…”Thomas was not with them…” and yet, “a week later” Thomas was with them.
Luke: The story of Emmaus takes place on “that very day…” We are told “That very day, the first day of the week, two of his disciples were going to a village called Emmaus.”
And we also hear Peter say, soon after the Resurrection, at the Sea of Tiberius, “I am going fishing”
In these small snippets of the gospel stories regarding the resurrection we can learn a few things about what we are supposed to do to continue making the Easter story an important part of our lives:
In one way or another, we have to go and see the tomb. This happens in a number of ways in the Gospels. We just have to figure out how we will find the tomb of Jesus in our daily lives and take some time to go there.
We can go alone or with others to the Tomb. Most likely alone at first, and then with friends, family, companions and strangers.
We can go in anticipation that perhaps Jesus is still there; prepared with spices to anoint him and be surprised that everything we have done since the beginning of Lent, is TRUE. “He is risen, indeed he has been raised.”
And, we can ask ourselves: “Why is it that only the women went to the tomb?” “Where were the men?” Only after hearing it from someone else do the men run, trying to outrace each other!
We can walk away… “Why was Thomas absent from the upper room?” “Where did he go?”
Did Peter just go back to his previous life when he says “I am going fishing…”? Why were the two disciples walking away from Jerusalem on that first day, directly following the crucifixion? And as Jesus revealed himself in the breaking of the bread, why did they run back at night to tell the others “He has been raised!”?
Sometimes it takes a vision of angels to have the courage to invite the Risen Christ into our lives. Sometimes it is the word of a friend or a stranger. Perhaps it isn’t important HOW or WHEN we get to the tomb… maybe the point is, that we simply need to make the effort to go.