WelCom April 2018:
Gospel, Mark 16:1-8
1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices with which to go and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ 4 But when they looked they saw that the stone – which was very big – had already been rolled back. 5 On entering the tomb they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right-hand side, and they were struck with amazement.
6 But he said to them, ‘There is no need to be so amazed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here. See, here is the place where they laid him. 7 But you must go and tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you to Galilee; that is where you will see him, just as he told you.”’ 8 And the women came out and ran away from the tomb because they were frightened out of their wits; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
The First Easter Story
The Easter Sunday vigil reading today is of Mark’s final verses of his chapter 16. His account deals with an empty tomb. This is the most powerful description of Jesus’ death and resurrection of any of the four evangelists. It is also by far the shortest. Two women go early on the Sunday morning to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. They find the entrance stone sealing the tomb has been rolled away and the body gone. No tomb could hold Him. Mark tells us that a young man was sitting on the right side of the tomb dressed in a white robe, which alarmed the two women. Today’s young man allays the women’s fears by saying, ‘do not be alarmed, you seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. But He is not here…He has risen!’ (16:6).
Who was this young man and where was Jesus? In Matthew’s account, this person was an angel. Mark used the same term at Jesus’ arrest, when a young man following Jesus, ran away naked after his loin cloth had been torn from him (Mk 14:51-52). Was Mark suggesting then, that those who had left everything to follow Him, now left everything to get away from Him?
The women learn from the angelic messenger that Jesus the crucified, has been raised from the dead. God has denied the authorities who killed Him and vindicated His Son who went to His death as the price of our salvation. The young man concludes by instructing the women to tell His disciples and Peter ‘Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you,’ (Mk 16:7). The women disobey this instruction out of fear and say nothing to anyone.
Mark’s account of the resurrection is important to me. The proclamation of Christ’s resurrection does not produce faith, unless we have our own personal encounter with suffering and carry our cross daily.
Each one of us should heed the words of God’s messenger, ‘Jesus is not here, He has risen’. Just as Jesus had led His followers to Jerusalem; He now takes us back to Galilee where Mark’s story begins. Our Easter does not really begin until our own death occurs; then it will be possible to meet Jesus in all His glory. Let us pray for that occasion.