TUESDAY IN THE OCTAVE OF EASTER
READ: JOHN 20:11-18
Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" 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, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" She thought it was the gardener and said to him, "Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni," which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and then reported what he had told her.
At the end of our Gospel reading today, Jesus gives Mary Magdalene a mission: to go and tell the brothers that He has risen. And we read that, without hesitation, Mary accepts that mission. "Mary went and announced to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord,' and then reported what he had told her."
The Lord gives us the same mission: to communicate to this world that He is Lord, that He has risen. Now before you start freaking out that you'll have to go door to door passing out pamphlets about the Catholic Church and the Risen Christ, read this quote: "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses" (Pope Paul VI). What the people in our families, in our schools, in our workplaces, in our community, and even in our parishes need is not for us to teach them with lofty language about the Resurrection of the Lord. They need us to be witnesses of it. They need us to communicate, by how we live and how we love, that we "have seen the Lord", have encountered His love.
Pope Benedict XVI says that "This does not mean cutting oneself off from one's daily commitments, neglecting earthly realities; rather, it means reviving every human activity with a supernatural breath, it means making ourselves joyful proclaimers and witnesses of the Resurrection of Christ, living for eternity". To be witnesses of the Risen Christ means to live as He lived, forgive as He forgave, love as He loved. It is to "live in a manner worthy of the call [we] have received" (Ephesians 4:1), to "put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another...And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection" (Colossians 3:12-14). "A Christian should live as Christ lived, making the affections of Christ his own, so that he can exclaim with St Paul: It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me" (St. Josemaria Escriva).
It's not about being a good person. It's about being a transformed person, a person changed by grace. It's about being someone whose life actually resembles Christ's, whose life points to Jesus as the model, the reason, and the source.
We cannot do this by ourselves. We need the Risen Christ. When Mary encountered the Resurrected Jesus, she didn't recognize Him. She thought He was a gardener. Hearing Him speak her name, she realized it was Him, encountered His love, heard the mission He was giving her, and was given the strength she needed to accomplish it. And in the same way, we often don't recognize the Risen Christ in our midst--in the Eucharist, in the Confessional, in all the Sacraments we receive, in our time of daily prayer, in our Christian community. But it is there that the Lord desires to call us by name. It is there that we can encounter His love--in all its extravagance, mercy, and beauty. And it is there that we are shown how to live out this mission of showing the world, and specifically the people in our lives, the Risen Christ. In this Easter Season, let us approach Jesus in these places, asking for the grace to be transformed so as to live more like Him.
What fears arise in your heart when you think about being a witness to the Risen Christ?
Why does it matter whether or not we accept this mission to be witnesses?
Who in your life does not know the love of God?
What is the difference between being a good person and a person transformed by grace?
How will you seek grace in this Easter Season so as to encounter Jesus and be transformed by Him?
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. Upright is the word of the LORD, and all his works are trustworthy. He loves justice and right; of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full. See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, To deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine. Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and our shield. May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us who have put our hope in you. R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Today is a two-fold resolution:
1. Think about the one person in your life that needs Jesus the most, the person who is hurting, the person who is lost. Pray for that person today.
2. Make a plan. Our lives cannot be transformed by Jesus unless we make a plan to spend more time with Him and seek the places where He is freely pouring out grace. What is your plan?