Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
“On the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning.” She came early that morning in order to fulfill an act of devotion to the Lord by anointing his body which was hurriedly buried that Friday afternoon as the Sabbath, when no work was allowed, was about to begin. She had to wait for Sabbath to be over in order to continue the unfinished work of preparing the Lord’s body for burial. “Anointing is an attempt to hold death at bay, to preserve the body from decomposition. And yet, it was a vain effort: anointing can only maintain a person in death; it cannot restore him to life.” (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth part 2, 229.) On the morning of the first day, the Magdalene saw that her concern for the dead body of Jesus and its preservation was all too human a concern. Seeing the empty tomb and thinking that someone has taken the body of the Lord away, she ran to tell the apostles of it. Peter saw the empty tomb and the burial linen neatly folded. John saw the same thing – he saw and he believed!
What did John see? He saw the love of God for Jesus his Son. Last Sunday, we heard the Lord’s anguished cry from the Cross: My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? But did God really abandon his Son? The empty tomb tells us: No! God did not abandon Jesus. While the women and those who love Jesus can only anoint his dead body in order to hold death at bay and preserve his body from decomposition, “God had preserved (Jesus) from decomposition in a definitive way, possible only to God, and has thereby preserved him from the power of death.” (Ibid.) “On the third day, he rose from the dead.” It had to be on the third day and not a day more for such would begin the decomposition of the flesh. “Only with corruption was death regarded as definitive. Once the body had decomposed, once it had broken down to its elements - marking man’s dissolution and return to the dust, - then death has conquered. From that time one, man no longer exists as man – only a shadow may remain in the underworld” In Christ’s resurrection, the words of Psalm 16:8-10 finds fulfillment: “…my flesh dwells in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life.” If Jesus loved the Father so as to obediently accept death, the Father loved Jesus so as not to let him see corruption. God did not abandon his Son to the netherworld. God did not allow death to fully claim victory over his beloved Son in whom he is well pleased!
And in manifesting his love for Jesus through the resurrection, the Father reveals his love for us as well - for the resurrection of Jesus is the principle of our future resurrection. In Jesus, we are truly loved by the Father. He, who loved Jesus so as to raise him from the dead, also loves us in his Son for, through him and in him, he shall also resurrect us from the dead. He will also not abandon us to the netherworld. He will show us the path of life…only if we believe in his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ whom he had sent so that may not perish but have everlasting life.
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!