Saturday, April 27, 2013

It’s not about us…good, bad, indifferent…

Reflection on Mk 16: 9-15

It was Easter morning…the first Easter. The end, or at least what surely seemed like the end, had come so rapidly…and so brutally. And the brutality was infectious. Judas, having betrayed Jesus for those 30 pieces of silver was so desperate when he realized…too late…what he had done, that he took his own life. Peter had denied Jesus three times, and when he heard the cock crow, he was so devastated that he ran away and wept bitter tears. Jesus’ mother was pierced through the heart with grief. The rest had scattered in fear for their own lives, and in disbelief.

Among those remaining at the foot of the cross, Mark mentions Mary Magdalene by name, and here now on that first Easter morning, Jesus appears first to her. Jesus had cast seven demons out of her…not one, or two…but seven. Can we even imagine how possessed she must have been? And yet she is the first to experience the risen Lord.

She went and told the apostles, who were behind locked doors overcome with grief, that he was alive, and that she had seen him…and they did not believe her. Healed by Jesus of seven demons…with him when he died…on her way to anoint what she thought would be his lifeless body…and they did not believe her. How much better a witness could we have asked for?

Two disciples experience the risen Jesus in another form. We know from Luke, that these were the disciples on the way to Emmaus. Jesus illuminated the scriptures and the prophets for them….and they recognized the Lord in the breaking of the bread. This is the first Easter Sunday…who knew anything about the breaking of the bread except those closest to Jesus?

But when they returned with their witness, the eleven just couldn’t bring themselves to believe them either. So Jesus then appears to the eleven. He rebukes them for their unbelief and hardness of heart…after all, had he not sent the most believable of first-hand witnesses? And then…immediately…he sends these wounded and broken men out into the world with the most precious of gifts…his salvation, his forgiveness, his infinite love, his body and blood…and so those most precious of gifts come even to us…here…now.

Peter denied him three times, and Jesus makes him the head of the Church. Mary Magdalene had been possessed by seven demons, and she is the first one he shows himself to after his glorious resurrection. The eleven closest to him did not believe that he had risen from the dead, and they are the bearers of the good news of salvation to all of the world.

Don’t you see? Don’t you see? It’s not about us…good, bad, indifferent…it’s just not about us. It’s about him, and his father, and their spirit; it’s about all that he said, and did for us; it’s about all that he gave us, and all that he took away.

He became one of us, he bore our guilt, our sins; he suffered and died, was buried, and rose from the dead. And even though it’s not about us, it is up to us. It’s up to us to surrender, to say “yes”, to believe, and to accept his incomprehensible love. W.W.