“Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.” (John 20:1)
5:42 a.m. One hour before dawn’s first light. Well before my alarm was supposed to go off, in the quiet and dark of the night, I was wide awake. A rooster crowed in the distance, but this time it announced not the denial of a sinner but the triumph of a Savior. It was Easter morning! There is no greater dawn! There is no greater morning! How could I sleep? I tossed and turned for about an hour and then walked out the door to see the sunrise. I sat there on the church steps watching light fill the sky. I thought about the week that was: about the washing of the feet, the agony in the garden, his betrayal, his trial, his suffering, his crucifixion, and his death. Yesterday afternoon I climbed up a ladder to adjust the white cloth on the crucifix and there I was 20 feet over the sanctuary staring at our beautiful crucifix and seeing the details on Jesus’ suffering face. Now this morning, that suffering was gone. He has conquered death. He has conquered sin. Our Savior is alive! How could I sleep?
In the gospel, Peter and John run to the tomb because they could not believe what Mary Magdalene had told them. When they get there, they have to “bend down” to look into and go into the tomb. An act of humility which ties together a theme that I touched upon on Holy Thursday: humility is how we encounter Christ. Today it is how John encountered the reality that the Lord was alive. Pope Francis touched upon this theme this morning when he gave his Easter Blessing: “To enter into the mystery, we need to “bend down”, to abase ourselves. Only those who abase themselves understand the glorification of Jesus and are able to follow him on his way.” It is only when we humbly come before the Lord that we realize how much he loves us and how much this day truly means. His victory is our victory. His triumph is our triumph. Now we go out like Mary to share this victorious news. Our Lord is alive! How can we sleep?