John Hartley - April 2016

posted 29 Apr 2016, 00:06 by Richard Jones   [ updated 29 Apr 2016, 00:06 ]

Dear Friends 

                We know why the tomb was empty.  Mary Magdalene, Peter and John did not.   They were still living with awful memories of Good Friday.   It was on that day that their world came to a stop – the end of life as they had known it.   They must have been confused when they looked into the tomb and found it empty.   In a short space of time Peter and John made some sense of their discovery and, as we read in the Gospel, ‘they saw – and believed’.

                For her part Mary Magdalene was too wrapped up in her grief to think clearly.   ‘They have taken away my Lord’.   To her Jesus was dead.   The bottom had fallen out of her world.   She was trying to adjust to the death of her Lord and Master.   With her eyes swollen from so much crying she failed to recognise the person standing beside her.   It was his voice that gave him away.

                Jesus was here, after all, alive, speaking to her.   She was desperate to resume their earlier relationship.   What she wanted to do was to look back and return to the good old days – the joy and the closeness.   However, Jesus had to redirect her devotion, deep and loving as it was.   It had to be turned, to be pointed the right way.   Mary had to look forward, not back.

                Easter is about looking forward, not back, forward to a new relationship with the risen Jesus.   We are not to spend time looking at repeated action-replays, but to take part in a fresh game altogether.   Mary had to relax her grip, to let go.  She had to learn that the Resurrection meant that Jesus was alive in her, that his Spirit was present in all she said and did.   Never again would she be alone, he was always by her, encouraging her, giving support and comfort to her.

                From despair to victory, from sadness to joy !  This is the message for us at all times.   When we feel overcome by the strains and stresses of life, when we allow the sorrows and losses of our human condition to get the better of us, this is the message to hold on to.   A degree of faith in the Risen Lord is able to lift us above the levels of doubt, darkness and dread.

                The story of Mary Magdalene (St John 20.1-18) is one of a personal encounter with the Risen Lord.   Like her, we may not realise he is by our side (especially in the most sorrowful moments of life) but he is there, and when we recognise him (as he ‘speaks’ to us) he urges us to let go of the past and move on, in his presence and with his love and his guidance.

I wish you a Happy and Blessed Easter.

John Hartley