Bishop Carcaño's Easter Sunday Reflection
Easter SundayJohn 20:1-18
Brothers and Sisters,
Christ is Risen, Risen indeed!
As the sun arises on this day our faith arises to remember and proclaim our faith. The tomb was empty because our Lord, Christ Jesus, was risen from the grave.
Mary was the first to go to the tomb of Jesus that first Easter morning. She found it empty. She assumed that someone had stolen Jesus’ body. She was a smart woman so immediately she knew that the task of finding Jesus’ body would take all the disciples thinking and searching together.
So, Mary goes and tells Peter and John that someone had taken Jesus’ body and she had not the foggiest notion of where they might have taken him. Peter and John run back to Jesus’ tomb with Mary and confirm that it was true; someone had taken Jesus’ body. That cold, empty tomb must have given Peter and John an uneasy feeling, perhaps even caused fear in their hearts, because rather than staying at the tomb and trying to figure out why anyone would take Jesus’ body and where they might have taken it, they go back to the place of safety where they had been with the other disciples. But Mary stays at the empty tomb.
I can hear nature’s silence at the cemetery where Jesus was buried; a silence broken only by Mary’s tears falling upon the ground, and the heaving of her breast as she despaired over not only Jesus’ death, but now the disappearance of his body. But greater than Mary’s despair is her passionate love of Jesus so she hangs in there at that frightening, empty tomb trying to figure out how she might recover the body of Jesus and reclaim it for proper burial. Mary shows such courage.
Weeping all alone she looks into the tomb where Jesus had been laid and is surprised by two angels sitting where Jesus’ body had been. She must have been startled but she does not flee showing incredible inner strength. When the angels ask her why she is crying she tells them forthrightly, “They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.” Upon the sight of those angels I know I would have run for dear life, but Mary stays.
Then it happened! Jesus himself appeared to Mary. She didn’t immediately recognize him. In fact, she mistook him for the cemetery gardener, and when he like the angels also asks her about her tears and who she is looking for, she says to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” How could Mary possibly bear the weight of a dead man’s body and move him from one place to another? How true the proverb, “Love feels no load.” Mary loves Jesus enough to take on the trouble and the consequences of moving his dead body. It was a task, though, that she would be saved from for the One put to death by the powers of this world had already been raised to life by God’s own power.
I think our resurrected Lord’s heart was touched by Mary’s love, and so he calls her to him by name. “Mary,” Jesus said, and it was then and only then that Mary realized that it was Jesus who stood before her.
One day Jesus had said that the shepherd knows his sheep, calling them by name, and the sheep follow, because they know his voice (John 10:2-4). Mary heard the voice of her shepherd, and she knew his voice immediately; the compassionate voice of the One who knew her most inner thoughts, struggles and aspirations, and loved her deeply. It was the voice of Jesus who on a mighty good day had redeemed her life and transformed her world; the source of her great courage.
You remember Mary’s story do you not. She had been a woman possessed by 7 spirits, but one day Jesus came into her life, touched her and made her well, freeing her from those spirits that afflicted her soul and limited her life. Perhaps her 7 spirits were fear, insecurity, envy, hatred, greed, apathy, a lack of love for God and not a thought for neighbor. Maybe, but we don’t really know what 7 spirits afflicted Mary. What we do know is that they held her back from being all God would have her be. But Jesus the good shepherd and the lover of her soul one day called her by name and healed her, setting her free from her afflictions and transforming her life forever.
Is this not what has happened to us? That one day we heard our shepherd’s voice calling us by name, and we were touched by his power and might and his love for us and all the world. We experienced his living, loving presence among us. It was the resurrected, living Lord who gave Mary her faith and courage, and the One who gives us hope of a world redeemed and transformed by the very power of God.
The Easter message is the word of hope and life for the world, a world in need of Christ Jesus. Jesus sent Mary to tell the other disciples that he was with them. Mary went and told them that she had seen the Lord. I pray that you and I may also go forth on this glorious Easter morning and tell the world that Jesus is with us, all of us. A sure thing, for we have seen the Risen Lord and even heard him calling us by name!
Blessed Easter Sunday to all!
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño