The Gospel of the Day – 2016.03.27 (Easter Sunday)
The Empty Tomb
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.
The Foundation of the Church
On this Easter Sunday, the reading for the day does not offer a great deal of theology to engage in. The narrative is brief. And relatively straight-forward.
It was dark on Sunday morning, when Mary Magdala came to the tomb. She was at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified. It was she who anointed him for burial, and she was the first to receive the revelation that Jesus had risen.
It was dark when she arrived at the tomb, but not completely, and in the dim light of morning she saw a hint of the truth that would unfold as the sun rose, and filled the day with light.
She saw the stone rolled away from the tomb, and found the tomb empty.
At first she assumed that someone had come and removed the body of Jesus; taken and hidden him somewhere.
She hurried to find the others, and tell them what she had found. When the other disciples arrived on the scene and explored the empty tomb for themselves, the understanding of what had transpired began to take hold.
They saw the empty tomb, the burial garments cast aside, and they understood that Jesus had been raised from the dead.
On that belief, and on the strength of their witness the Church was born, but the Church was not built on the foundation of Peter’s faith. It was built on the faith of women; the women who never abandoned Jesus, and did everything in their power to make smooth the path that was in front of him.
Throughout his ministry it was the women who surrounded him who always knew, always understood the power of his message. They were never confused about his mission. They always understood how it would end.
While his male disciples tripped over themselves, doubted him, doubted each other, vied for supremacy, betrayed him, denied him, sold him into captivity; while all of that was going on, the women were steadfast by his side. They anointed him, they witnessed his trial, they stood by him as he was crucified, they buried him, they waited by the tomb, and they were the first to see him risen.
God bless these women, and their faith, it was a comfort to Jesus in his final hours.
And then those same foolish men put them aside. Took over the narrative, and did their best to wash their names from the Gospel.
Easter Sunday – Easter