How powerful is this verse that initiates the Gospel with which the Church jubilantly proclaims today’s solemnity of Easter Sunday! This first verse is taken from the penultimate chapter of Saint John, the chapter that speaks about Jesus’ resurrection and its rippling saving effects.
The whole verse reads as follows: Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag’dalene 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). This verse is full of apparent contradictions, which, as the biblical text later on reveals, seem to highlight more and more authoritatively, what it is to come next: the glorious resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ!
The first verse that comes to mind is the first day of creation. What did the Lord God do in Genesis on the first day? The Bible magnificently explains: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day (Gen 1:1-5).
By Jesus’ resurrection from the dead the heavens and the earth are clarified once again. They are united together, although each has got its particular characteristics. With Christ’s resurrection the light of life has come definitely into our broken world to remain and rule it over. There is no situation, irrespective of how much difficult it is, to be alien to Christ’s saving eternal light of the resurrection! Let us not forget what Jesus said: I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness (John 12:46). I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10). That is why it makes a lot of sense the fourth verse taken from the book of Genesis: God separated the light from the darkness (Gen 1:4).
Mary Magdalene, the apostle of the apostles, approached the tomb early. For her Jesus was still dead. So she paid a visit to the tomb out of her human love and respect. She went early. Her attachment to Jesus was so evident! Even if she did this out of love she was still in [the] dark. Grief obscured and weakened her faith. She was more concerned about her grief than about what Jesus might be capable of doing. She saw. But only physically not spiritually! Although the proof that the resurrection occurred was there, before her eyes! The stone had been taken away from the tomb!
The whole story changed when she saw Jesus who called her by name: Mary. And the Gospel continues: She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rab-bo’ni!” (which means Teacher) (John 21:16). She could understand that it was Jesus because only he could call her by name. Thus, as the Bible continually demonstrates, only God can call by name! Since only God knows his creation which emanated from his loving hands!
In today’s society and Church we need to recover the power of discernment. We need to engage ourselves seriously into that decision-making process that honours God’s will in our lives. We feel the urgency to collaborate with God’s Spirit in that interior search that challenges, pacifies and strengthens our weakened will with that of the Father. And this we do to recognize more what He wants from us so as to live healthily, peacefully and flourishingly in our body, mind and spirit. Above all, we need to comprehend that, if we collaborate with his grace, God really takes away our stone of suspicion, hatred, calumny, accusation, revenge, resentment, anger, division, jealousy, soulless competition and so forth in order that we resurrect with Jesus into the kingdom of love, forgiveness, trust, joy … eternal life.
Lord Jesus, help me see and believe that you are removing my stone of sin and resurrecting me with you into your life of grace. Unite me forever with you, O resurrected Lord! Amen.