This Holy Week, we remembered the sorrow and the pain Christ endured for us as he accepted his Cross, carried it, was nailed to it, and died hanging from it.
I can imagine the anguish his Mother Mary and those who loved him felt as they watched him suffer, as they watched him die, as they held his lifeless body in their arms and buried him in the tomb.
I can imagine their numbing grief as they hid together in the upper room; silent and shocked. Their hearts, filled with sadness, sagged heavily inside their chests.
For Jesus’ followers, he was their King, their God, and their Messiah who had come to save them. And now, he was…dead. They were completely unprepared, even though he had tried preparing them, they couldn’t have understood. In their minds, this wasn’t how it was supposed to be.
They wept together and held each other in their intense grief, weeping, hardly eating, too stunned to do much of anything. They prayed…without saying anything.
Then, in the midst of their darkness, a glimmer of hope began to glow.
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb…
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead. (Jn 20:1-9)
After they left, Mary Magdalen stayed and wept for she thought someone had stolen his body which only compounded her grief. But, in Mary’s darkness, the glow of hope grew larger and larger until it overtook the darkness completely and flooded her heart with Hope and Peace.
…she turned around and saw Jesus there…(Jn 20:14)
Mary’s bitter grief immediately evaporated once she realized that Jesus, the one whom she thought was dead, was ALIVE!
…she went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’…” (Jn 20:18)
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (Jn 20:19,20)
Where once there was darkness, despair, and grief; now there is light, rejoicing and HOPE.
Their Christ, their Messiah, their God is alive! They had watched him die, held and buried his dead body, and now here he was, – alive and well!
Christ restored their faith and reignited their hope.
In the same way that he conquered death for himself, he also conquered death for us all. Our bodies will still succumb to nature and die so long as we live in this world, but now –
by His dying and rising, we have Hope for a different life, a very real and everlasting life.
When I sat with my dad in the hospital the day he died, I at first prayed for his physical healing. I clung to him, wanting to keep him here with me in this world just a little longer.
However, once it was clear his body was too weak to go on, our prayers switched to asking for his spiritual healing so that his soul would be ready to enter God’s Kingdom.
I held his hands and sobbed like I never have before and my brother, my mom, and I launched into the prayers of the rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet. In that “hour of his death” we prayed that God would show Mercy to my dad.
When I reflected on that moment with a clearer mind, I felt as if eternity opened up like a wormhole in the room and our prayers – and those praying for us – gently ushered his soul out of the vessel that had carried it for nearly 73 years and into the loving arms of our Mother, Mary. She bundled his soul up like a newborn baby and held him close.
I continued holding my dad’s hand even after he had passed but eventually I had to let go. Now, even months after his bodily death, I still cling to him but am slowly loosening my grip.
He doesn’t belong in this world and is now where he’s really “supposed to be”. I would like him to be here with us so I can talk with him and hear him but he really is where I’ve always wanted him to go. (I just wasn’t ready for him to leave quite yet.) I continue praying for his soul with the Hope that he can now join in Christ’s resurrection and be “made new”.
Christ’s own resurrection from his death gives me the hope that even though my dad had to endure pain and death, and even though we remain in this world to grieve him, Christ rose and so shall my dad and all of us one day. Otherwise, all our suffering and pain would be for nothing and there would be no hope to live by.
As we remember and celebrate Christ’s Glorious Resurrection today and hear the most beautiful scripture readings of salvation history, I imagine Mother Mary preparing my dad’s soul and presenting him to her Son for entry into His Kingdom.
Today, renewed on this Glorious day that our Church on Earth rejoices in His Resurrection, I embrace Hope and pray that the “ocean of Mercy” that “gushed forth for souls” may now “envelop the whole world” and especially my dad’s soul and for all those who have died. I hope Jesus looks upon the soul Mary presents to Him, He will say to my dad –