Opening Our Eyes

John 20: 1-20

The Easter question is: Who can see the Risen One? And after the great death through which we again have gone: who can feel the Easter joy? Filled with love and grief, Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb early in the morning on the First Day. She sees in the dim first light of this day that the stone has been moved away—and from this she infers that they have taken away the Lord! But she has not seen it. Her eyes are still in the grave—they cannot yet see. Where is He?

Resurrection Unknown Egyptian ArtistRunning to Simon Peter and Lazarus John, she reports it, and they too come, but they cannot see more than some cloths inside the grave. Now it begins to dawn on them what they had heard might in fact be true: that He would be raised from the dead. But where is He? They cannot see.

Mary, however, remains at the grave. In her grief and not knowing how to see, she weeps. And then she sees the angels, who ask her, Woman, why are you weeping? Still in the grave, she cannot really see! And in this not knowing which she cries out for the second time, she turns. A change begins. There she sees the one she takes to be the Gardener. He too asks, Woman, why are you weeping? And for a third time, she cries out in her not-knowing, this time with a plea to please bring Him back. And it is through this that the Lord can name her, like a baptism, and awakens her to sight. Then she can say: “I have seen the Lord…”

Our eyes mostly cannot see the spirit. The Resurrection is an open Mystery because it has been placed before us as an objective world fact, but our eyes remain in the grave. They are not alone in there. Not only our eyes, but our ears and speech and our hearts are in the grave. We hold to death and dead things, because we think we can count on them. But the grave is empty—He is not there! So where can we find Him?

The secret lies in finding our own activity, to learn to seek Him. We teach the children: the Spirit of God will be with you when you seek Him. And their most important response, their religious practice is their reply: I will seek Him! How can we renew our eyes? We can seek. We can praise. We can pray. We can stand at the grave not knowing, and weeping, and opening our hearts, and we can begin to turn the grave into an altar.

At the grave of all we cannot yet do, we can make an altar to the One who we long to see with our eyes, to see with our hearts. We can think the Risen One, we can feel the Risen One, and we can pray the Risen One. We can offer ourselves to Him in this way, as He offers Himself to us. In the grave we must say: He is not here. At the altar we can say, He is Risen! And I will seek Him!

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