(John 20: 1-2; 11-17a)

srj ii part 01If you read the gospels carefully, you will see that each one tells a different story of Jesus’ resurrection.  The Gospels are not Jesus’ biography; they are descriptions of the disciples’ experience of Jesus – and each person, depending on their personal experience and the audience for whom they are writing, tells the story of their relationship with Jesus in a different way.  

We each live the story of the Resurrected Jesus in our lives – and the life of the congregation – as well, but again, because of our different experiences in life and in our relationship with Jesus, we would tell the story differently.

In John, Easter-time is a time of absence and presence, of learning to accept and experience Jesus in a new way. This mirrors the hills and valleys of our lives; we do not live always of the mountain top, basking in God’s love for us. Often, we struggle to recognize Jesus in the circumstances around us, but he is always there.

John 20 begins with the words, “On the first day of the week…”  This signifies a new time, Christian time, a new way of relating with God.      

“…while it was still dark…” – Darkness symbolizes a time of evil… In Mary Magdalene’s mind, it is still the time of the crucifixion.  She is “in darkness”, absorbed in the sufferings and death of Jesus, the awful events of Friday.  She sees only the stone which was moved, and runs away to tell Peter.  At this point, she is lost in her grief and doesn’t look around.  There is yet no revelation.

She runs to tell Peter and the other Disciple that Jesus loved.  She is not alone in her grief.

“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”  This is actually the theme of chapter 20.  We, also, do not know where Jesus is.  “Where is the Lord?” is the question the early Christian Community struggled with over and over. We continue to struggle with it today.

Questions for Reflection

What mystery of new life are you struggling with in your own experience?  To whom do you “run to tell.”
“Where is the Lord?” – Where is God’s Spirit leading you/us during this time of grace for the congregation?

srj ii part 02In John 20:11 Mary Magdalene is back at the tomb. Mary is “seeking” Jesus.  The Greek uses the same word (seeking) as from the Song of Songs (3: 1-2). The meeting takes place in a garden. In the Old Testament, the garden is a symbol of espousal: the garden of creation, where the human is espoused to the Divine and they walk together in the cool of the night; the garden of the Song of Songs where the Beloved seeks the one whom her soul loves; the garden where Jesus went with his disciples the night before he died/was glorified… Mary Magdalene is a symbol of “the new Jerusalem”, redeemed by the death of Jesus. The garden scene evokes the two major themes, that of creation and covenant.

Mary is weeping.  She is the lover.  The last trace of Jesus is here.  She is immersed in depression and grief as well as spiritual sadness.  The angels at the tomb ask, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  She says, “They have taken my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.   Mary has “turned” back to her pre-resurrection experience; she sees Jesus, but doesn't recognize him. Jesus repeats the question of the angels, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom do you seek?” This question also links us to the beginning of John’s gospel.  Jesus’ first question (John 1:38) to those who will become his disciples is “What are you seeking?”

Mary “turns” a third time, but she was already facing Jesus, whom she saw as the Gardener. An internal “turning” was necessary before she could see what was before her eyes.

“Mary” – when Jesus speaks her name, she sees and recognizes.  “Do not cling to me… but go and tell my brothers…”  “Do not cling to me” translated as “Not me “, in the Greek.  Do not try to have the same kind of relationship as before.  Jesus’ resurrected presence is not for her alone, but for the community.

Questions for Reflection

What is your personal story of “creation and covenant”, the point of your life at which you gave yourself over to God?
Which part of the story of Mother Frances’ “creation and covenant” energizes you most?
What is the “turning” that we, as a Congregation, need to do in order to be free to “see” Jesus in a new way and proclaim his Resurrected Presence to others?

Sister Jo-Ann Jackowski, SFP

Published: May, 16 2017

see also Reflection part one: Trasformational rising