Saturday, 7 April 2012

The Butterfly Effect

GospelJohn 20:1-9 

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.

 “I don't care to inquire why they cannot believe an earthly body can be in heaven, while the whole earth is suspended on nothing.”
― Augustine of Hippo

Our most poetic of Gospel writers chooses a simple tone for the Resurrection. No Angel of the Lord rumbling through the heavens shattering the tomb entrance; no young men sitting serenely on gravestones with a message of hope; no groups of disciples running here and there. The faith of the disciples is, instead, strengthened by what seems to be, further bereavement. 

Mary of Magdala witnessed the whole, bloody mess of Good Friday. Surely, even as adept as she is claimed to be, the thought must have been going through her head that something had gone wrong; that the journey had missed a turn. This dawn visit a pilgrimage of remembrance; a mis-timed goodbye? Courage enough to brave the soldiers if necessary; not enough  to brave the threshold of an empty tomb.

An opportunity for Simon Peter to redeem himself then. To launch himself  into the unknown courageously and no doubt remorsefully at this apparent desecration; insult added to injury that he could not even stand watch over the dead. 

And then to find what? A winding of grave linen - heavily scented with the gifts of sorrow, sticky with the honey texture of aloe and myrrh; bound together still in a sunken chrysalis. The discarded head-covering the wrinkled testament to transfiguration. 

The battered and abused body of Jesus was not at rest in the darkness of the Sabbath. 

In defiance of the Law - yet again - Jesus has been becoming, not only healed, but remade, reborn. A transformation to let him through the fabric of  death; sloughing away the denials and the accusations to the rising of the new dawn.

He is not there - the whisper of a morning breeze; the fluttering of white linen speaks of a man-child who was born, lived and died in an mundane corner of the world - not much in the scheme of things - but enough to change Eternity.

There is an answer for Mary of Magdala - 

His Father has taken him out of the tomb and put him into the hearts of all who believe. 

Can anyone, in face of this, still doubt that He has risen and lives, or rather that He is Himself the Life? Does a dead man prick the consciences of men...?”
― St. Athanasius of Alexandria,



Philomena Ewing said...

"not much in the scheme of things but enough to change Eternity"
I especially love this phrase and also the sense of irony you bring to this lovely post too
The Resurrection can grasp us even when we can't.
Blessings for Easter and always my friend.

Word in the Hand said...

always, Phil

Libby Walter said...

That was beautifully done, thank you for sharing it.

Bea said...

I think that's the hardest part to grasp, that he's in our hearts, and because he's in our hearts, we can do the Father's work. I also think that many of us keep him locked in our hearts, instead of letting him do his work through us. I feel that even in myself at times. When my heart tugs and battles with my mind, I know it's Jesus. Good writing, Word.