After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as the snow. For fear of him, the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here…
“He is not here…” begs the question, “So, where is he?” To formulate an answer for 2020 let us look at the record of the four gospels.
In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, the Risen Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” in their grieving. Next, the Risen Jesus appeared to the disciples who had fled Jerusalem to an unnamed mountain in Galilee. There he proclaimed, “I am with you always”.
In the Gospel according to St. Mark, the Risen Jesus appeared to a weeping Mary Magdalene, and then to two disciples fearfully fleeing Jerusalem. Lastly, he appeared to the eleven remaining disciples and sent them out to share the good news of his resurrection.
In the Gospel according to St. Luke, a group of grieving women, among them Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James, who were going to the tomb to anoint the body, were greeted by the Risen Jesus. Later that day two unnamed disciples fleeing to Emmaus were joined by a stranger. As their journey was ending, they invited him to join them for supper. At supper, in the breaking of the bread, their shrouded eyes were opened. Running back to Jerusalem, they rejoined the other cowering disciples. To them all the Risen Jesus appeared, and said, “Peace be with you”.
In the Gospel according to St. John the Risen Jesus appeared to the weeping Mary Magdalene. Next, he appeared to the disciples who were hiding behind locked doors. The Risen Jesus stood before them, said, “Peace be with you”, and then sent them out with the Holy Spirit. Thomas, who had removed himself from them, who doubted the resurrection, rejoined them the next gathering. The Risen Jesus reappeared in their midst, especially for the doubting Thomas.
The pattern of appearances of the Risen Jesus is clear.
He went to the grieving, weeping ones.
He went to the fearful, fleeing ones.
He went to the fearful, hiding ones.
He went especially to Thomas who doubted.
The Risen Jesus’ message was consistent to all – “I am with you”, Be at Peace, and share God’s love.
The words of the Risen Jesus ring true, just as All Saints bell rings true. In our time of trial and physical distancing, in our time of grief and fear, in our time of loneliness and doubt for the future, may we live by the words of the Risen Jesus that speak in our hearts in our time.
Be at Peace; “I am with you”, Share the Good News.
Rejoice and Be Safe.