The Resurrection appearances which the Bible brings us have several things in common. The first is disbelief. The grief of the disciples clouds their ability to see Jesus, at first. For most of them, they could not believe what they were seeing. Mary of Magdala – one of the closest to Jesus and one of those most devoted to Him – is clearly unable to see Jesus (John 20).
Within this Octave of Easter, it is worth recalling how often we are prevented from seeing Jesus because of, for example, our sadness and grief. He is always right here with us, but we do not recognize Him. Is that because we aren’t really looking for Him? Is it because we are simply overwhelmed? Are we caught up, distracted, absorbed in worries, concerns, genuine problems, even crises? Might it also be because we are in pain or caught up in anger?
Read John 20 and notice what opened Mary’s eyes, what changed her attention from herself and allowed her to recognize Jesus right there with her. She heard Him say her name. It was then that she “knew” this was Jesus, who loved her deeply. When He lovingly called her by name, she woke up and “saw” Him – risen, standing in front of her.
A challenge for this Easter week is to let Jesus say our name – address us with affection and intimacy – and grab our attention away from our sadness and grief, our pain and anger, wherever they may have come from. Jesus wants to draw us this week to thinking about the Resurrection, as first step, and then to experiencing His risen presence with us, close to us – so that we might better appreciate how much He loves us.
Let us not forget that part of the Good News of Easter is this: His risen victory over all sin and all death means that He has sent us to be witnesses of that Good News to others. He wants others to see us and to say, “She really believes. He seems free and joyful. Her actions, care, choices are those of a person who has encountered the risen Lord.” This is a week for us to respond to that call, that invitation, in a fresh and new way.
Let us pray. “Dear Risen Lord, we ask you to help us put aside our distractions, our needs, long enough to experience that you are alive and present with us. You are with us, full of mercy and a peace nothing else in the world can give. You are with us to show us how much you love us. Help us believe more deeply that we have nothing to fear because you have won for us the gift of everlasting life. Help us hear you call us by our name. We want to live our lives as witnesses to our experience of your love. We want others to know you and to be comforted by you as well. Please make your home in us, as we desire to better make our home in you. Bless this special week of celebrating your Resurrection. We pray in your Holy Name. Amen.”