Speak Lord: to us…

Mary Magdalene, SalisburyThere are three optional Gospel passages provided for Mass on Easter Day, one – the story of Jesus and the disciples on the road to Emmaus – reserved for the evening of Easter Day.

The first of them focuses on the disciples agitated and struggling to comprehend what has happened and why…

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

John 20:1-9

The details of this spare, taut, narrative are engaging. Mary’s early rising and running to Peter and John. The contrasting of Peter and John in their speed in running and their beginning to believe and understand. But note the use of the first person plural. There are differences and particularities amongst the first disciples but they are united,

They are united first in confusion; but then in understanding and then belief. They journey together, however much they also journey apart.

Mary Magdalene, Elisabeth Frink. (c) 2010, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Of where we may find you…

Christ's TombA number of passages from the Gospel may be read today, Easter Sunday.

The first option is given immediately below.The others appear at the end of this blog.

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

John 20:1-9

The emptiness of the tomb re-presents to us the sometime emptiness of our hearts and lives. We do not seek life in the tomb. The Lord is risen, he is not there – we must seek him elsewhere. It is elsewhere that he will find us

  • Do pray for a new encounter with Christ
  • Pray for his peace for the world.

Photograph of the empty tomb, Church of the Resurrection, Jerusalem. (c) Allen Morris, 2013.

– – –

When the sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices with which to go and anoint him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week they went to the tomb, just as the sun was rising.
They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ But when they looked they could see that the stone – which was very big – had already been rolled back. On entering the tomb they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right-hand side, and they were struck with amazement. But he said to them, ‘There is no need for alarm. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here. See, here is the place where they laid him. But you must go and tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him, just as he told you.”’

Mark 16:1-8

Or…

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.
Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’
Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.
When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’
They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

Luke 24:13-35

Speak Lord: that even our ‘no’ may become ‘yes’

Francois-Pierre Peyron Mary Magdalene Aix 2014

The gospel of the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time searches out and challenges hypocrisy.

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go,” but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir,” but did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ ‘The first’ they said. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.’

Matthew 21:28-32

How often does my ‘yes’ decline and weaken and become a ‘no’?

Surely, and sadly, more often that my ‘no’ becomes a ‘yes’.

But the Lord speaks to challenge the weakness and transform the turning away into a turning back. And how great is that: that we are not left to be subject to our hypocrisies and self-deceptions, but are again and again urged back to walking in the foot-steps of him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

  • What is it that helps people hear the Lord and respond generously to him?
  • What is it that makes it harder for us to hear and respond?

In some parts of the tradition Mary Magdalene (pictured above in a painting by  Jean-François Pierre Peyron in the collection of the Musée Granet, Aix en Provence) is seen as a reformed sinner, even a prostitute. More recently these attributions are seen as mis-readings of the scriptural account. For sure, though, she is brought to a new wholeness by Jesus, and in her ministry she communicates that wholeness to those around her, including the apostles. Photograph (c) 2014, Allen Morris.