April this year is filled with uncertainty, anxiety and yet creativity as our nation is in complete lockdown. We focus on God’s Word in Scripture to centre us.
On the first day of the week, right at dawn, the women went to the tomb with the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb and, on entering it, they discovered that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there. As they stood there not knowing what to think, two men in brilliant clothes appeared at their side. The men said to the terrified women: “Why look among the dead for Someone who is alive? He is not here; He has risen. Remember what He told you when He was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man had to be handed over to the power of sinful men and be crucified, and rise again on the third day.” And they remembered His words.
As I sit down to write this reflection, it is late March and our country has just gone into lockdown for probably a month. This is unprecedented in our history; we are sailing into unchartered waters, due to the Covid-19 virus sweeping the globe. Reactions around me vary greatly. Well, this is our reality, my friends. With Easter less than two weeks away, we Catholic Christians are feeling mostly sad that we will not be walking with the Lord and his Mother through the final days of Holy Week, not join in the triumphant morning of Easter Sunday – or at least participate in these sacred ceremonies only from the seclusion of our own homes. We have a sense of emptiness. The symbol of the empty tomb, referred to in the Reading above, is a powerful one at this time.
The Sabbath is over and the faithful women wind their way to the tomb. Mary had intended to accompany them. But wait! She is at early prayer when the room becomes dazzlingly bright and filled with fragrance. And there He is, holding her in the loving embrace she knows so well. The Son whom she brought to birth, nurtured, loved and supported through the years, and who died most violently, is with her again. And yet, He is different. His body now glorified is filled with a radiance that is indescribable, other-worldly. Mary understands as no-one else ever could understand. She does not need to go to the tomb; that symbol is for the women – and for us down the ages. We who can be so sceptical and dismissive are the ones who need to visit the empty tomb, and use our senses to take in and believe what is, naturally speaking, unbelievable. We already love Mary of Nazareth but in this moment of Resurrection, filled this year with our fears and anxieties, she assumes an even deeper significance for us.
Dear friends, we are in unknown territory but we are not victims: we have choices to make and things to do in these weeks. First, prayer. So far, the vicious virus has claimed many lives world-wide, with a great many more ill and/or dying. It is up to us as the Mary Potter family to pray, maybe to pray as never before. Let’s then move out of our small needs and reach out, at least metaphorically, to others, for while we may not touch them, we can use our great technology to send them messages of love, hope and even Easter joy. We can also keep our own demeanour calm, serene and dignified, a song in the heart and a smile on the dial! Mary Potter’s words as always inspire us: “We live in the glad day of Resurrection! It should be a fresh joy to us each day.”