April 14, 2020 (Tuesday) - Why Are You Weeping? - A Reflection on John 20:11-18

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

We are still in the middle of the Easter story. If you recall, early on Sunday morning Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb and sees that the stone covering the entrance has been moved and Jesus’ body is gone. She thinks it has been moved, and she runs to the apostles and tells them the tomb is empty. When Peter and John go to check, they find out she is right. They, too, think the body has been moved. They eventually return to their homes, but Mary remains behind, weeping.

After a while, she looks into the tomb again, perhaps to see if our Lord’s body has miraculously reappeared, and she sees two guys sitting there. “Why are you weeping?”, they ask. She replies: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then she turns and she sees another man standing there. And he asks her the same question: “Why are you weeping?” She thinks he is the gardener and asks if he has taken the body.

And the man calls out her name, “Mary”. And the fact that he knew her name, or maybe the way he said it, made her recognize who stood before her. “Rabbouni,” she says, and rushes to embrace him. Oh, the joy of seeing Jesus is back! But here is a question: “Why is she weeping?” Because, although Jesus has told her (as he told the others) that he was going to die and rise again, she didn’t believe. When she saw the empty tomb, resurrection was the first thing she should have thought of, but it was the last thing on her mind. And so she wept.

Are we any different? Jesus has told us many things. He has made us so many promises of abundant blessings and eternal life. He has assured us of his presence at all times, telling us we have no cause to be afraid. He has told us he gives us his peace, a peace unlike the world gives. But we don’t seem to understand. Like Mary Magdalene, we continue to weep. We weep out of sadness and worry and anxiety and fear.

I have tried to break some of these things down, especially about death, which seems to be getting closer and closer to us with each day, but somehow, we don’t see these things as we should. We think death is the end all, despite Jesus telling us that it isn’t. A dear friend of mine said she had stopped watching my reflections because I was speaking so much about death. When I told her I was actually speaking about life, she shut me off. She just didn’t want to think about it. I think some of you might feel the same.

So, a simple question might help: If you are weeping now, why are you weeping?