Recognizing the Resurrected Lord

Woman, Why Weepest Thou? by Fritz von Uhde
Woman, Why Weepest Thou? by Fritz von Uhde

by Fr. Juan Carlos Rivera, S.J.


We just recently entered the most important liturgical season of the year, namely, Easter. During these days we hear the story of Jesus’ apparition to Mary Magdalene in John 20. In this passage we read these words: “Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.” But why would the Church present to us a weeping Mary Magdalene during a time when we should be rejoicing? Can we make any sense of this for us? Why is Mary weeping? Is she crying out of joy? It doesn’t look like it from what we read. Is she hurt? Or, perhaps, is she weeping because her joy has become grief? 


Think about this: She walked with Jesus, heard His voice and spoke with Him—but she saw Him die. Now, her beloved, her Lord is no longer present; her consolation is gone…has someone taken Him away? Consequently, Mary’s faith is suffering, and where faith suffers, there follows a crisis in charity and hope.


In Mary’s tears outside the empty tomb we see a reflection of ourselves. We, too, experience in our life the desolation that comes upon us when God seems to be dead or gone. Therefore, we become obsessed with a dead body, and we no longer move. Like Mary, we stop from proclaiming Jesus: we stay weeping outside the tomb, too. And there is nothing in this Earth, not even an apparition of angels, who can free us from our pain. Nevertheless, John 16:20 provides the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to us: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”


Therefore, let us admire and behold how Jesus restores faith to Mary, for He wants us today to learn that in Him alone we found true consolation, faith, hope and charity. In order to understand that He wants us to learn this lesson, we need only to remember Paul’s words: “And if Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.”


Moreover, we read that Jesus asks Mary: “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” These questions are not meant only for her—Jesus is asking them to every one of us: Why are you weeping? Have you forgotten Me? Have you forgotten all those times when I was taking care of you? What happened to that faith which you so boldly proclaimed when everything was going fine for you? Why are you looking for happiness where there is only death? Truly, why do you weep if you have known me?


During this blessed time of Easter, let us consider that our life is short and we must use every minute of it to listen to Our Lord’s voice. We need to identify the ways in which we can tune in with Jesus so that we can hear Him: only His voice will “make us turn”—that is, give us faith. The Gospel tells us that when Mary recognized the living Jesus, she immediately went to proclaim His message to the Apostles, thus earning the title, “Apostle of the Apostles.” Therefore, let us not sit down, let us not be afraid; instead, recognizing everything that Jesus has done for us, let us run like Mary and proclaim to the four corners of the Earth: “I have seen the Lord”.


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