Mark 16: 1-7
And they went away seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. That’s how Mark concludes the Resurrection narrative that we hear today at the conclusion of the gospel. It’s seems rather odd, especially coming from those who have been most dedicated to him on this journey, the women, who are prepared to anoint his body and visit his tomb, leave in fear and trembling. In the end, they were no different than the disciples, seemingly faithful only “from a distance” as the disciples were throughout, and even the woman viewed the death from a safe place. In the end, their lives were about playing it safe rather than with and in a radical faith. For Mark, there doesn’t seem to be any “happily ever after” moment, but isn’t that how our lives often are? Mark now gives his listeners and readers the choice as to how they will live their lives forward.
But it’s Easter and none of that makes any sense. They were about to do what was expected of them by visiting the tomb and anointing his body. Their lives were about doing what was expected of them, until they encounter the unexpected and they leave bewildered, afraid, and seized with trembling. They all learned quite well what their fellow humans are capable of by arresting and crucifying an innocent man named Jesus. Like us so often, they were trapped by that lens in life, victims of what was expected and unaware of the unexpected happening within and around them. They knew what their fellow human beings were capable of and maybe missed the point of the Mystery in its fullness before their very eyes in Jesus, failing like the disciples, to see he was more than what can be seen with the eyes; he was more than human but also divine. The unexpected happened in an unexpected place and at an unexpected time, and their lives are about to change forever, no longer living from a distance, but encountering life in love.
But not yet. None of us knows what the women do after this. We can assume that they do eventually do as commanded, once a burning begins within them, because we know and will hear throughout this season how that early community began to grow in Acts of the Apostles. But their work was not done as it wasn’t for his disciples. Once again Peter is singled out in this gospel, like us, needs even a little extra work, but all of them will be called to go back to where it began in Mark’s Gospel and begin to not only view life from a different place but also to live it from a different place, a place from within.
On Holy Thursday we heard of the story of the Passover of the Lord and our sharing in that story and the pain that often accompanies this journey of conversion and discipleship. On the journey we must go to the place where we felt rejected. We must go to the place where we felt abandoned and be healed of our own passion. Good Friday challenged us to pass through that narrow path of the Cross in order to recognize that deeper love and not live our lives from the place of hate and judgment. Easter, though, pushes us through and offers the hope we so often need to be healed of all that holds us back, from playing it safely from a distance, to let go of our own hurt past and history, knowing we must go through it in order that we may live Easter not only at the end of our lives, in the fullness of God’s love, but to live in and with the desire that God has for us at this very moment, to be God’s love in the world, only through an embracing of the fullness of the Mystery and it’s ever-deeper reality.
Now we may not be there yet and certainly we aren’t in its fullness. We may be like the women in the Gospel or the disciples that we encountered these past days. We may still be living in fear, and for them at this moment, the haunting fear of the rejection they will face in believing that there is something more to life in Christ. We may still be holding onto parts of our past, trying to control and missing the unexpected working in our lives. Heck, we may find ourselves square in the tomb, wondering, lost in my own victimhood, trying to do it all by myself, knowing deep in my heart and the place of emptiness within me, that that stone can only be moved by God, in order that I may come out a changed person, living in and through love, being love to the world. That stone can only be moved by a God who works in the most unexpected places of our lives in order to gift us to be God’s love to the world.
As we celebrate the Resurrection of the Crucified Christ, we pray for an awareness that God meets us wherever we may be on this journey and accepts us at that point, knowing the demands and pressures of our society to live one way when God calls us to another. In a world that so often calls us to conform, to play it safe from a distance, on this great feast of Easter, when the Crucified One is raised from the dead, God calls us to be and to live in the unexpected and that our eyes and minds and hearts are opened to be transformed into God’s great love in the world! Happy Easter!