29Mar 29/03, 2016. Easter Tuesday

1st Reading: Acts 2:36-41

Peter calls those who crucified Jesus to repent and be saved

[In his Pentecost sermon, Peter said to the crowd],

“Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

Gospel: John 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene meets the risen Jesus, but fails to recognise him at first

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord;” and she told them that he had said these things to her.


Coming to recognise the risen Lord

A fascinating side of the Easter stories is how they convey a sense of gradual recognition of the risen Jesus, by his closest friends and followers. John’s vivid portrayal of Mary Magdalene challenging the gardener to hand back the body of Jesus conveys some sense of their stupor and confusion. At first, all they hoped for was to be able to show honour to his mortal remains. But when he calls Mary by her name (Miriam, its Hebrew form), she makes the joyful leap of recognition: that he is truly there, alive! An interesting point is their eagerness to tell each other about him, to share their religious experience. “Go and tell” is a recurring theme in these Easter episodes. Magdalene will tell the rest of the group, not just that he is alive, but that he is going back to the Father, his Father and theirs, with whom he enjoys a more intimate union than can any other human being. The uniquely special relationship conveyed by the phrase “my Father and your Father” is what the Magdalene recognises and passes on.

Then we have Peter, the church’s principal public witness, trying to help his Jewish people to recognise Jesus as their Messiah and saviour, even those who had called for his death and supported his crucifixion. The kind of Messiah that they had come to know was one intent on calling everyone to salvation, with all their sins forgiven. All they need do, in order to draw close to God, is turn to Jesus with faith, express this conversion through baptism, and receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And we ourselves, in this Easter week, can come to recognise anew the various ways that Jesus is still living among us, not only in the holy eucharist and in the Gospel we read, but also in our fellow-Christians, in the blessings of this world, and in whatever is best in our own selves.

He calls us by name

There is mention of sadness in today’s gospel, when Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb weeping. The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Then Jesus also asked her the reason for her tears. She grieves because she cannot find the Lord. We too may grieve when we lose someone who is significant for us, or when we cannot seem to connect with someone important to us, no matter how hard we try. We search and we cannot find, and, so, we grieve. In the case of Mary, she searched and she found, or, rather, the Lord for whom she was searching found her, and he called out to her by her name, “Mary.”

We may not always succeed in finding our loved ones for whom we search, but we will always find the Lord if we search for him, because he is always searching for us. He is the good shepherd who calls his own by name. The Lord is calling our name, even before we begin to search for him. Our finding the Lord is always in response to the Lord’s search for us. He came to seek and to save the lost, and we are all lost to some degree. The Lord seeks us out in his love. All we need to do is to put ourselves in the way of his searching love, as Mary Magdalene did. She has something to teach us about seeking the Lord in our pain and loss. [MH]