When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. (Mark 16:1-8)
“Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise”: everything indicates a new beginning. These women are going to take a new step forward, experience something brand-new. Jesus died on the cross; they can no longer listen to him, serve him and follow him as they did before. They think they know what to do and they made their preparations, buying spices to anoint his body and give him a final homage. What worries them is the large stone at the entrance to the tomb: who will remove it? But nothing will happen as they expected. The stone has been rolled aside and, inside the tomb, instead of Jesus’ body they find a young man dressed in white who has something to tell them.
In biblical language, the white garment of the young man suggests that what he will say comes from God: “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus; he is going before you to Galilee.” Hearing that Jesus is risen, the women do not sing for joy, they are “trembling and bewildered.” What they have just heard is absolutely unimaginable. They are looking for Jesus’ body, but the road is infinitely longer than they could have imagined. He did not remain in the tomb; he is alive and continues his journey. They must therefore go further and keep on following him.
The journey of these women will not end at the tomb. It is by going towards the others that they will be able to encounter Jesus. But at the moment they are so overwhelmed by the message that “they said nothing to anybody.” They need silence in order to let that unheard-of news transfigure their fears. Like a seed, the word was cast out, but it needs a time of maturation in order to grow and bear fruit.
What do the women do afterwards? The passage does not tell us; it was not written to satisfy our curiosity about history, but to share this good news: Christ is risen and goes before us to Galilee. We will not find Jesus at the tomb; we are invited to look for him “in Galilee.” We need to read and re-read the Scriptures and we will find him in the Galilee of the Gospel. We can look for him in the Galilee of our lives as well, where he goes before us.
In our life of faith, we are called to take new steps forward, to make new beginnings. Like the women, we can try to prepare them and sometimes we will worry uselessly about the obstacles that can arise on the way. But in going forward we will often discover that these obstacles cannot separate us from the words that God wants to speak to us; they always find a way to reach us.
These words invite us to believe that Jesus is waiting for us in “our Galilee.” We can discern the traces of the Risen Christ’s passing in our past with its failures and its joys. We can rely on his presence to make the choices we must make in the present, with all its questions and challenges. We can entrust to him our future, with its uncertainties and its hopes. He is there, waiting for us.
What can help me not to settle down comfortably in my faith, to dare to go towards new beginnings?
What do I do to look for Jesus in that place, that “Galilee,” which is my daily life?
Other bible meditations:
Daily Bible Reading
For the DiarySearch events
- 2017-04-20c Easter Sunday : Maranatha / Alleluia 8 + Psalm 118 / Jn 20:1-9 / Hristos voskrésié iz miertvih / Easter Prayer by Brother Alois / Surrexit Dominus vere
- 2017-04-20b Good Friday : Prayer by Brother Alois / O mon peuple / Jn 19:28-37 / Jesus inclino la cabeza / Adoramus te Christe