April 6, 2021
by Andy Alexander, S.J.
Creighton University's Collaborative Ministry Office
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
Lectionary: 262

Acts 2:36-41
Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20 and 22
John 20:11-18

Celebrating the Easter Season

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” 
which means Teacher.

But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.’”
- John 20

The resurrection appearances we are experiencing this week have several things in common. The first is disbelief. The grief of the disciples clouds their ability to see Jesus, at first. These are not disciples so excited about the promised resurrection that they were waiting for it, or made it up in their minds. They could not believe what they were seeing. Mary of Magdala - arguably the closest person to Jesus - at least the most devoted - is clearly unable to see Jesus.

It is worth pausing at this time after Easter to recall how we are sometimes prevented from seeing Jesus because of our sadness and grief. He's always right here with us, but we can't recognize him because we aren't really looking for him, with expectation and an anticipation of the joy we will experience in the encounter. Instead, we are caught up, distracted, absorbed in worries, concerns, genuine problems, even crises. We are sometimes in pain or caught up in anger. We might even find ourselves blaming our Lord for our problems or for the unfreedoms of others.

It is here that we notice what opened Mary's eyes, what changed her attention from herself and allowed her to recognize Jesus right there with her. She heard him say her name. Then she knew, this was not a gardener, or an idea, or an article of faith. This was Jesus, who loved her and had healed her. He'd driven seven demons out of her. She was a woman of means; she bankroled Jesus' and his disciples' itinerant ministry. She came from a business town, Magdala. Perhaps she was caught up in her wealth and was without care for the poor - seven demons worth of un-care. His lovingly calling her by name woke her up to seeing him risen, standing in front of her.

This Easter week, we can let Jesus say our name - address us with affection and intimacy - and grab our attention away from the sadness and grief, pain and anger. He wants to draw us this week from thinking about the resurrection, to experiencing the presence of our risen Lord with us, close to us, loving us. Like Mary, we may be tempted to want to just hold onto this blessed presence and keep it for ourselves, but there is a third step to this resurrection encounter.

Jesus sends Mary to announce the Good News to his brothers. It is a remarkable mission. First of all, in Jesus' Jewish culture, a woman was not allowed to be an official witness in a hearing or trial. Jesus chooses her. Could it be that the men would have known what a credible witness she would be? The Church calls Mary, "the apostle to the Apostles." Pope Francis raised her feast to the same rank as that of the Twelve.

The message for us is that when Jesus lets us encounter him - with the good news of his risen victory over all sin and all death - he also sends us to be witnesses of that good news to others. He wants others to see us and to say, "She/he really believes. She/he seems free and joyful. Her/his actions, care, choices are those of a person who has encountered the risen Lord." This is a week for us to hear that call, that invitation, in a fresh and new way.

Dear risen Jesus. I ask you to let me put aside my distractions, my needs, long enough to experience that you are alive and present with me. You are with me, full of mercy and a peace nothing else in the world can give. You are with me to show me, help me believe more deeply, that I have nothing to fear because you have won for us all the gift of everlasting life. And, dear Jesus, let me hear you call me by my name, with the affection from you I so dearly need. I want to live my life as a witness to my experience of your love and your being alive in my life. I so want others to know you and be comforted by you as well. Please make your home in me, as I desire to better make my home in you. I know you will bless this special week of celebrating the resurrection.

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