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The empty tomb

Gospel Reading: Jn 20:1-9
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

In the pain and sadness brought about by my father’s death, I found great comfort in the Resurrection story. The big boulder of stone has been rolled away, and Mary of Magdala tells us that the tomb is empty. In due time, the light of the resurrection will scatter the darkness of pain and fill my heart with the light of hope and new life.

The Resurrection story challenges us to transcend every experience of separation and sadness, pain and loss. When the other disciple who runs with Peter to the tomb peers into the sepulcher, he sees and believes. Mary Magdalene is overcome with grief and sorrow over the disappearance of Jesus’ body. Her heart cries out to see Jesus in her desire to take hold of his corpse. She gives voice to the sentiments of people who have lost a loved one or are buried in the darkness of pain. “Where is Jesus? Where is my Teacher?”

The eyes of Mary Magdalene will later open to the truth that Jesus lives in all his disciples. She will continue to see Jesus in the Apostles, in the women who have rushed to the tomb with her, and in herself. The “seeing,” the opening of one’s eyes of faith, does not happen in an instant. In fact, the Gospel is precise in saying that Mary Magdalene and the Apostles do not yet understand the Scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. In due time, Mary Magdalene will receive something much greater than what she has pleaded for. She will not get back a corpse; she will experience new life! Jesus will restore Magdalene’s life; she will see and believe.

We will see Jesus not only in the resurrection on the last day. We can see Jesus even now in one another if we use our eyes of faith and start caring for one another. If, like Mary Magdalene, we choose to walk by faith and follow the example of Jesus, he will reveal himself to us as the risen Christ.

I like to believe that in his full life on earth, my Dad lived by faith in Jesus, tried to follow his path, and is now back in the infinite love and mercy of God, the author of Life. In his own way, God will make us, and all those who have lost a loved one, understand that our beloved continues to live in us as we strive together to follow the risen Christ.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.