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Easter Sunday cannot be separated from Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. There is no Resurrection without Death and Suffering – but more importantly there is no Resurrection without Love.
Mary Magdalene, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, did not recognize Jesus. Isn’t it strange – these companions of Christ did not recognize their own Rabbi?
How many of you heard of the Invisible Gorilla by Daniel Simons?
Imagine you are asked to watch a short video (above) in which six people-three in white shirts and three in black shirts-pass basketballs around. While you watch, you must keep a silent count of the number of passes made by the people in white shirts. At some point, a gorilla strolls into the middle of the action, faces the camera and thumps its chest, and then leaves, spending nine seconds onscreen. Would you see the gorilla?
Almost everyone has the intuition that the answer is “yes, of course I would.” How could something so obvious go completely unnoticed? But when we did this experiment at Harvard University several years ago, we found that half of the people who watched the video and counted the passes missed the gorilla. It was as though the gorilla was invisible.
Haven’t you experience something like this before? You are looking for your mobile phone, your wallet, your keys, and you spent a good amount of time looking for it, and you couldn’t find it. And when you finally did, it was in the most obvious place – and you missed it all along.
What happened is that you were looking for what you were expecting and where you are expecting to find it.
Mary expected to find the body of Jesus in the tomb. She expected to find death. She did not expect to find resurrection.
The disciples on the way to Emmaus didn’t expect to encounter Christ on the road, they knew of His resurrection, but they did not expect the Risen Christ to show up, resurrected and all.
Have we been looking for Death, when we should be looking for resurrection? Have we been expecting resurrection to come the way we want it,or the way we expecting it, and miss resurrection altogether when it really happens?
Resurrection happened that Easter almost 2000 years ago.Resurrection happens again, and again, and again.
Mary only recognized Jesus when he called her by her name. Is this how it is? That we only see Christ in the Other when we know each other by name, that we humanize each other instead of dehumanize each other?
Mary first thought Jesus was the gardener. She saw only the function of the person there, not a human, but a function, a tool.
Do we see people as functions and tools? Do we see them as what they can do for us? Or do we see them as a human being, the Imago Dei – an image of God? Is that when we finally see the risen Christ?
I think we misuse the word “love” today. We don’t love things, objects and tools. We won’t weep when these things are gone. At least, I hope we don’t weep when these things are gone. We love people. We don’t love things and objects – that, my friends, is idolatry.
Then Jesus says something quite out of place – he tells Mary”Do not hold on to me.” Here is Mary, one of His disciples, weeping,grieving at the death of her beloved teacher, her Rabbouni, and when she finally sees him, he tells her “Do not hold on to me.”
Imagine – Mary doesn’t have much of a clue about the resurrection – at least not at that moment. She finally sees Jesus, whom she thinks she will never be able to see again since he is dead, and he tells her,immediately after she recognizes him, “Do not hold on to me.”
Imagine – You finally recognize the Risen Christ – you were confused in the past, you were looking at the wrong places, but you finally got some idea about the meaning of Resurrection, and then the Risen Christ tells you “Do not hold on to me.”
“Do not hold on to me.”
“Do not hold on to me” like an object, like an idol.
Resurrection is not something to be had, to be held on to.
Resurrection is something that is meant to be experienced. It is something that gives you new life, so that you can pass that new life on. It is something that gives you love and that love sustains you in the darkest moments, through your valleys of death. It is the living water that never runs out.
“Do not hold on to me” but to go out and be that living water that brings resurrection and new life to everyone and everything around you.
“Do not hold on to me” as though the Risen Christ is an idol – that is idolatry, but live out resurrection as a disciple.
Alleluia! Christ has risen! Christ has risen indeed!