The First Day

1 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.[1] Jn 20:1

On the first day of the week: this is a pebble that will start an avalanche, the appearances, and particularly Pentecost sets the stage that the Lord’s Day, the Day Jesus rose from the dead and the Spirit descended…on that day, the first Christians and we celebrate.  The Sabbath, the last day of the first creation, is past; the Lord’s day, the first day of the new creation, is come. It is First Day, that East-er Day, the Paschal, Day, the Pass-over Day, the Day when death is no more.

Mary of Magdala, from whom seven demons had gone out, is at least one of the first to come to the tomb early in the morning. Matthew has her accompanied by the other Mary [Mt 28:1], probably Mary the mother of James and Joseph [Mt 27:56] which he mentioned a few verses earlier.  Mark confirms this other is the mother of James, though He does not mention Joseph; he does, however, add Salome [Mk 16:1]  Luke doesn’t mention names until much later but identifies the group: The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils. Then they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. [Lk 23:55-56]

We only find out who they were when, the first day, after they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them. [Lk 24: 1-5, 9-11]…So here we have Joanna.

John may mention only Mary Magdalene because, later in the chapter, Jesus appears to her in the garden near the tomb. For the dedication, love and adoration of Mary Magdalene, please pray for me.

…came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark. I cannot grasp the full impact of Jesus’ Resurrection without contemplating it in the midst of a cemetery.  There, surrounded by tombstones, surrounded by the dead, I get a true sense of exactly what a revolutionary incredible but true occurrence this was when Jesus rose, complete and alive, everlasting, in bodily form, from the dead.  Very, very, very Divine.  Only He who gives us life could have given Jesus life again, and in a heavenly form.  I thank You, Father, for raising Jesus from the dead as the “first fruits” of the new creation.  Creation can now, through Jesus, reach its fulfillment.  We can become what we were created to be, eternal beings, in, with, and through You.

Without eternal life to which to look forward, this existence would be the Sisyphusian rat race into oblivion that many believe it to be.  Suicide would be not only a viable option, but perhaps a preferable one.  As Paul so bluntly put it, without the Resurrection, if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all. [1 Cor 15:17-19]…BUT, now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. [1Cor 15:20]  This is the bedrock of our faith, the foundation of our belief, the hope of our existence.  This is “my Lord and my God” as our Savior, Lord, Redeemer, and Raiser from the dead. Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” [1Cor 15:54-55]

But what Mary was faced with at this juncture is not the Risen Jesus, but an empty tomb…that’s a shocker.  Her mind spins with all temporally plausible explanations…the body was taken away by…the Jewish Authorities…Pilate… Joseph of Arimathea…grave robbers…revolutionaries….???

She probably knew the Jewish authorities had sealed the tomb and had had guards…where were the guards…maybe they knew something.

For the times of hurt, pain, confusion, lack of understanding, no natural explanations…Lord, hear our prayer.

Early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. I often come to Your tomb in early morning, while it is still dark.  I see the stone removed from the tomb and think I have lost You, that I have lost touch with You, that I will not be able to find You.  That I don’t know what “they” have done with You.

I completely forget Your last words to us: And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. [Mt 28:20]  I completely forget that You said: I have told you this while I am with you. Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. [Jn 14: 25, 23]  I do not believe Paul: I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me. [Gal 2:19-20]

I have the hubris to think that I know better than You, God; that what I see and hear and touch is all there is…yet in doing this, I do not even believe what You have shown us through science, that we are made up of molecules and atoms and that there exist spaces between atoms that are relatively so large, I could drive the proverbial Mac Truck between them…that I am not the solid entity that I believe myself to be, but a conglomeration of DNA molecules which You have miraculously united into what I euphemistically call “me.”

To my ranting and raving, my temper tantrums, You are continually saying: Don’t be afraid.  You admonish me to stop judging by appearances, but judge justly. [Jn 7:24]

Please remind me of Your presence when I feel You have abandoned me, when I do not realize that You are carrying me and that’s why I can’t see Your footprints.  Please give me courage to face the next moment, the next minute, the next hour, this day, believing that there is purpose to my blindness, my deafness, my bewilderment…that these are part of Your plan, these are truly blessings that will ultimately lead to my greatest happiness.  Cue me that I’ve “got it!”

Mary, Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto yours.  The great “unto” again.  Let go and let God.

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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