What was just a simple attempt to do a corporal act of mercy turned out to be the source of great joy!
When Mary Magdalene and other women went to Jesus’ tomb early Sunday morning (in our calendar) to finish what they had left undone the Friday before, they were heading for the great surprise of their lives. They could not find Jesus inside the tomb. Weeping bitterly, they wondered why Jesus’ torment was not yet over that even His torturers would still desecrate His dead body.
They searched for Jesus but they could not find Him. Is it because their search was not really that exhaustive? They immediately informed the disciples, especially Peter whom they now deem as the new leader of the group, they called the New Way. The disciples too searched for Jesus in the empty tomb.
We search for a lot of things in life: money, power, fame, work, human esteem, love, ambitions, etc. But in the wide array of things that we look for in life, can we find Jesus in the list? Many people could not find the true meaning and the authentic joy in their life simply because, in the first place, they didn’t include Jesus in their bucket list or wish list.
Magdalene wept bitterly upon losing sight of Jesus’ dead body. But what worries us more is the loss of our cellphones, iPad or other things that we consider so valuable. Do we also weep bitterly when we lose Jesus through mortal sin? “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. And all these things will be added unto you”.
When Magdalene found Jesus, she could not recognize Him at first. Has Jesus’ face changed? Has death modified His appearance? Oftentimes, it is our grief that obscures our vision from perceiving clearly the face of Jesus amidst our suffering. It hinders us from recognizing the hands of God amidst our storms. Hence, in our incapacity to recognize the face of Jesus, we must listen to His voice as it is proclaimed in the Church.
When finally Magdalene recognized our Lord, He said, “Noli me tangere” (Do not touch me). How privileged are we today, for not only we can touch Jesus, we actually eat His Body in the Holy Communion! Our encounter with the Risen Lord is deeper. It is Eucharistic. And being Eucharistic, it is transformative not because it transforms the Body and Blood of Jesus into our own self, but because as St. Therese of the Child Jesus said, “We are transformed into Jesus Himself as a drop of rainwater falls into the vast ocean”.
Peter encountered the Risen Christ upon seeing the empty tomb. John saw it also and believed. In order to encounter the Risen Lord, we must empty our hearts which have become like “tombs” to a lot of filthy things – our selfishness, pride and sensuality.
After confirming that, indeed, Christ has risen, Peter spoke boldly to the Chief Priests and the leaders of the people. He was not afraid anymore, unlike last Friday when he was asked by that powerless slave, “Are you one of the disciples of this Nazarene?” and he denied it. Now, Peter has become courageous, unafraid, but at the same time, loving and patient with the defects of others. It is because he too recognized his own defects. We can love better when we know how much we are loved. “He who has been forgiven much of his sins will love more”.
Hence, no one who truly encounters the Risen Lord could just stand there without doing anything. Authentic encounter with the Risen Christ naturally leads us to love and to serve others. This encounter spurs us into action: we will never be afraid of negative criticisms anymore for the sake of Christ’s Kingdom; we will never get tired of getting involved in the GKK or parish activities, in committing ourselves to the service of the Church. St. Augustine used to pray: “Lord, give me the love that you ask of me, and later, ask me whatever you want”. True encounter with the Risen Lord would make one more loving. And he who loves truly is willing to do whatever it is that the Beloved asks of him.
Let us, therefore, join the women – Mary Magdalene, Salome, Mary, the wife of Cleofas – who went to the tomb in order to search for Jesus, to encounter Jesus, and to love Him more. With the words of St. Josemaria Escriva, I wish all of us: “May we search for Christ. May we encounter Christ. May we love Christ”. Amen. HAPPY EASTER TO ALL OF YOU!