“Two Realities, One Truth”
A Homily – The Feast of Our Lord’s Resurrection
Acts 10:34-43; Colossians 3:1-4; St. John 20:1-18
We don’t know whether the birds were singing yet. Certainly, if they had been there just a little earlier, they would be singing for all their might. We know that it was still dark. We don’t know whether Mary Magdalene or the others had gotten any sleep. It’s doubtful, to say the least. But we do know that there was grief and confusion in their hearts.
Saint John tells us that Mary Magdalene got up early and went to the tomb. Like so many before and after her, the grave of a recently buried loved one has a powerful attraction. There were still words that needed to be said, thoughts that needed to be untangled. And, somehow, it just made more sense to do it there, in his Presence.
The understanding wasn’t there yet. The promised Good News seemed torn to pieces by the recent events. The reality of grief hadn’t yet caught up with the reality of victory. And so on she walked to the lonely tomb. The darkness must’ve been something of a comfort, though. The crowds had been so intense. Even the company of the disciples must’ve been a difficult burden to bear – their grief-worn faces a constant reminder of the ugly truth.
Arriving at the tomb, though, a new reality begins to break in. As the dawn begins in the eastern sky, so it also begins in her heart and mind. But, at least for now, it’s an unpleasant dawn. The massive stone has been rolled away. His Body has been removed. And what little there was to hold onto is now gone. With a startled sigh, she runs back to the Holy City to tell the others. Disbelief, mingled with fear and unspeakable pain, courses through her heart and mind.
She tells them about it, breathless from the running agony. The tears are streaming down her face. The words are barely understandable as they pass her lips. At first, they probably just looked at her. This unwelcomed dawning of a different reality strikes them as hard as it struck her. But, once the shock sets in, they rise to their feet and they run. Peter and John run with all their might, Mary with them. They run to hold onto whatever can be salvaged of their hopes and memories.
Standing at the tomb – inside the tomb – their hearts break. Silently, they take it in. For Peter and John, the journey back to the Holy City is likely slow and arduous. For Mary, that journey will have to wait. She needs to sit a while, look a while, think a while. She needs to ponder what has been lost all over again. All the while, the sun is rising in the sky. All the while Jesus has been watching her.
Then the dawning of the new reality begins to pick up momentum. She leans into the tomb one more time. She sees them sitting there. They ask why she’s weeping. Slowly now, the pieces of the puzzle will come together because, as she turns, she faces Jesus. The pieces of the puzzle always do seem to come together when we face Jesus, don’t they?
Thinking he’s someone else, her grief pours out. She begs for answers – any answers. The might of love within her for her Savior is ready to carry his Body from wherever they’ve taken it. The determination in her heart is steadfast and not to be questioned. And then he speaks her name. He who created her – he who has known her from all eternity – speaks her name. And a different kind of tears flood her eyes.
To hear his voice again, to hear him speak her name – he who knew her sins and forgave them – this is the light and the joy of her life. Through the sobbing comes one word: “Rabbouni!” Spoken not with sorrow, but with ecstasy. The dawning of a new reality is taking hold within her. His eyes are somehow more alive than before. His voice is stronger. His Presence more real.
He gathers her thoughts for her and points to the future. Yes, there’s a future again! Yes, the story has NOT ended. Yes, the reality he spoke of before the crucifixion was indeed REAL! He gives her a message for his brothers. He makes her the first apostle of the Good News of this new reality. Without hesitation she runs and blurts it out as quickly as she can: “I have seen the Lord!” She can hardly believe her own words: “I have seen the Lord!!!” The new reality has come, and with it the truth that abides. She – we – will never be the same.
In the Name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.