A Passion like Mary
John 20: 1-18
Earlier this year I did an ‘Exploring Spirituality’ course at the London Centre of Spirituality based at the church of St Edmund the King, Lombard St in London. http://www.spiritualitycentre.org/
During one of the sessions we were given a passage and asked to gather in groups and think holy thoughts about this passage. My group was given John 20 – The Empty Tomb. Holy thoughts I thought, this is a difficult task, I’m not sure if I am capable of that. I then ascertain that holy
thoughts meant allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to you on this passage without getting distracted which is something I am good at doing – not getting distracted that is.
As I embarked on my task of holy thinking I had no idea what would come out of the passage. On reading and re-reading I was surprised at the reaction of Mary on her visit to the tomb, contrasting it to that of the disciples. I must confess that at some point some unholy thoughts came into my mind and I started to compare the reactions of men against those of women.
The passage tells us that Mary got up early while it was still dark and went to Jesus’s tomb. She saw that the stone to the tomb was rolled away. Imagine her panic. Verse 2 states;
“So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
And what did they do? They ran to the tomb and the disciple – the one that Jesus loved bent over, saw the strips lying there and did not go in! Simon Peter took a little bit more initiative and actually went inside the tomb and saw the strips of clothing and the cloth that was wrapped around Jesus’s head. Then finally the other disciple decided to go inside and at this point they believed. I can barely imagine their grief but what puzzled me was their reaction in comparison to Mary’s. Ok, they still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead but the disciples went back to where they were staying! There is comfort in company and probably they needed to reflect and discern exactly what had happened to Jesus and what to do next.
But Mary took this one step further. Hooray for Mary the initiative taker! Like any good woman who has lost her Lord and Master she stood outside the tomb and she wept and during her weeping encountered two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been laid, one at the head and the other at the foot and they enquired as to why she was crying? ‘Woman, why do you weep?
“They took my Master, she said, and I don’t know where they have put him” Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing, there not recognising him at first and he also enquired why she was weeping. Thinking he was a gardener Mary in her state of confusion began to assume that he must have taken Jesus’s body. “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him”
Her passion for her Master coupled with her caring nature is demonstrated here.
On recognising Jesus, Mary cried out Rabonni! meaning teacher and overwhelmed with emotion tried to embrace him but Jesus said;
“Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. And then he sent her on a mission to tell the others the good news about the ascension “I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God. (The Message version)
Mary due to her persistence, passion for Christ, her God-damn stubborn nature, unlike the disciples, did not leave that tomb until she had turned every stone and found Jesus. She wept, she pleaded and asked questions and then she had encountered not only with angels but witness and spoke to the risen and living Christ.
Mary was privilege to be the one who brought the good news of to the other disciples. “I saw the Master”
My thoughts on this passage were Lord, may I have the passion like Mary , may I always seek you, ask questions, plead and weep, explore all avenues, not leave any stone unturned until I encounter you, even if it means in my own human failing blaming others and you. May I be like Jacob who cried out “I won’t let you go until you bless me.” (Genesis 32:26) May I not be like the disciples who came, look and walked away still confused but like Mary who sought after you with all her heart and found you.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “(Jeremiah 29: 13-14a)