April 01, 2018
We know these women by name – not always the case in the Bible – Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James & John and Salome. They are looking on from a distance when Jesus dies on the cross and then they watch when his body is taken down, is given to Joseph of Arimathea and is laid in the tomb. After Sabbath rest, very early in the morning, the women return to the place of burial intending to anoint his body. They are surprised to find the stone rolled back. On entering the tomb, they see a young man sitting on the right clothed in a white robe. He says to them: “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.’” There is a verse that follows in the Gospel according to St. Mark 16:8 that is not included. “Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
We should not be surprised by the inaction of these brave women who have experienced the trauma of crucifixion & death of Jesus, have returned to anoint his lifeless body, have discovered an empty tomb and behold a young man in white with an astonishing message that Jesus has been raised. Their response is true and authentic: trembling with bewilderment, overcome with fear, they flee and tell no one. Silence. When the Gospel of Mark is first proclaimed, listeners naturally ask: “What happened?” The evangelist Mark wants the assembled community, who hear the Gospel, to answer their own question. They are the ending! Our faith is not based on an empty tomb but on the appearances and presence of the Risen One. Jesus appears to Mary of Magdala, she goes to tell his disciples and Peter. Again, doubt and disbelief but Jesus appears to them.
Saturday morning, I found a message that I have been saving in the sacristy on the counter near a small crucifix. It was given to me by young person when our school was closed. In print it reads: “Father Gene Do Not Give Up Go Forward.” Indeed, an angel came to me with a message. Jesus goes before us. We will see him in “Galilee” --in our joyful encounters, in our darkest moments, at Eucharist, in Family Faith Formation, in a Catholic School, in the Sacraments, in Scripture, when we gather with family, in celebration & reconciliation, in sickness & trauma, in our poverty & struggles, in the longing of our hearts, even in our sinfulness & failure. God is with us in Jesus Christ. That “Good News” is entrusted to us. Do we remain silent? Or share it?