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  • Writer's pictureFr. Gustavo

"Three Women and an Empty Tomb"

Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Salome visit the empty Tomb
The Women at the Empty Tomb by Dr. He Qi.

Who were the first to become aware of the Resurrection?  They were not the apostles nor other close followers of Jesus.

 

They were Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Salome, Zebedee’s mother.

 

The more I read the story of the Resurrection, the more I believe ia unsettling – at least in some quarters.

 

If one believes that the Christian faith is about merit, or about how closely one toes the line, this story has nothing but being very, very upsetting.

 

First, because at the center of the story there are women.  Women!  In a society supported by an official religion who pushed women to the kitchen, the fields, and to the end of the line?  How come?  Where is the world was Peter?

 

Further, looking at the “record” of those women, it was quite clear that they had plenty of “Fs”. 

 

Mary, when Jesus was a young child went along with Joseph to yank out of the Temple!  At the wedding in Cana, she misunderstood Jesus as a miracle worker, Did Jesus had to make himself useful for something?

 

Later, as the Gospel tells us, she wanted to pull Jesus out Jesus from his mission claiming that He was out of his mind.  And there may be some other things going on, for Jesus claims that the crowds following him in fact they were his own mother and brothers.

 

Mary Magdalene as one of the women who travelled with Jesus and helped support his ministry "out of their resources", indicating that she was probably wealthy.  A wealthy woman?  It had to be fishy, for at the time women were not allowed to hold property.  Was she using her husband’s money behind his back?  And she had seven demons been driven out of her!  Woman, rich, and possessed!  In the eyes of the people of her day, she had more than three strikes!

 

And Salome?  Salome was Zebedee’s wife, and mother of James and John.  One day her children had left her and the family to follow an unknown country preacher.  So, who was going to take care of the family business? 

 

Perhaps Salome thought that if perhaps Jesus was successful, her children could bring some bacon back to the house and recoup her losses.  And so, she went on to orchestrate a cabinet shuffle.  And as we know, it didn’t go well with Jesus.

 

Further, they were sure that they were going to find Jesus at the tomb. They had been together during Good Friday.  They knew that Jesus died.  They saw it, and they thoroughly cried out.

 

Then, they had to leave in a hurry for the approaching Sabbath, and even if Jesus had a sad end, things had not been left properly as the Master deserved.  So, they went to the Tomb to take care of a very dead Jesus. 

 

Now, let me go back.  On Friday, before they day was over, they need to purify themselves for the High Holiday, and for taking care of the families and visitors for the Holiday.  Their place was at their homes, right?

 

But, right after the celebration was over, rather than taking a day off, the women nevertheless went to a tomb, a place where no self-respected Jew would go. 

 

So, one can easily imagine men dissing these women for not taking care of the guests and not caring too much about the Law.  “Well?  What can you expect? They are women,” they may have said.

 

So, as you can see, it is easy to understand that according to their “records” the women had no business being “at the right place at the right time.”  Yet, they were.  Once again, Jesus had no problems in being associated with the “wrong crowd”.

 

In fact, Jesus was known to be a friend of sinners.  Which was against how a religious teacher of his day – and religion and good manners demanded. 

 

As we know, Jesus often drew the ire of the scribes and Pharisees for eating with sinners (Luke 15:2) rather than avoiding them.  Jesus was dismissed as someone who was “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Luke 7:34).  That was what the Law demanded, right?

 

And yet, Jesus, time and again, challenged such understanding.  Indeed, Jesus re-defined and condensed the law into just one word:  Love. 

 

And so, He taught his disciples, “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”  And, just to make clear what He meant, he told the story about the Good Shepherd who goes out of his way to rescue the lost sheep and carries the hurting sheep on his shoulders. 

 

Later on, at Calvary and at the gates of death, where there was no time for baptism, confirmation, Sunday School or even the opportunity of making a good deed, Jesus did not mind associating himself – and God’s Kingdom – with a dying bandit.  And a criminal who reckoned who knew that he was getting what he deserved. 

 

And yet, Jesus does not pile it on.  But Jesus invited him home.  And so, let me say this – If the man had a chance, then there is still hope for me.

 

In St Peter’s words, “God’s has no favorites.”  And so, there was room at the garden for Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Salome.  And so, there is room for all of us.  For you and me.

 

Today’s celebration of the Resurrection, if anything, is a celebration of love over sin, of life over death, of hope over despair, and of mercy and grace over guilt and shame. 

 

If it is a burial, it is the burial of a religion of merit and of self-accomplishment, of the religion of the smug and conceited for being born into the faith.  It has to be the burial of a religion of people pretending to tie down God to laws of their own and reducing God as a vengeful god.

 

If it is a burial, it has to be the burial of hate, of all that crushes our neighbors under the weight of guilt and shame, and of everything that pushes us apart.  It has to be the burial of a religion based on pulling specks out of someone else’s eyes, while ignoring the logs in theirs.

 

If it is a resurrection, it has to be the resurrection of the many who consider themselves just as a “has been”, of the re-threaded, and of those who cannot see themselves as “pure” enough to be taken seriously by God. 

 

If it is a resurrection, it has to be the rising up of all that is good, all that betters our neighbor, and all that brings us together closer to what God dreams for all his children.  If is a resurrection, it has to be the resurrection of hope, life, mercy, and forgiving grace.

 

Today, the Risen Savior makes his presence known to us not to scold us or to recall the one and a thousand betrayals, but to embrace us and to encourage us to join him in his mission.  It is Easter Day.  Let celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection – and ours as well.

 

My sisters and brothers, “On this day the Lord has acted; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

 

Fr. Gustavo

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