“Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. Lo, I have told you.’ So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples...” (Mt 28: 1-8)
It is not what the women seek, nor what they see, that fills them “with fear and great joy.” It is rather what they do not expect, and do not see - that He is “not here.” It is an empty tomb, after the event of the Resurrection, to which there were no eye-witnesses.
How strange, how intriguing, is our Lord in His greatest mysteries and gifts. We cannot “see” or look directly upon, His most important gifts, although they enlighten, and give meaning, to everything else. As – I can’t resist a Chesterton-quote here – G.K. Chesterton notes, “Like the sun at noonday mysticism explains everything else by the blaze of its own victorious invincibility…The one created thing which we cannot look at is the one thing in the light of which we look at everything.”
And thus it is with this glorious thing He did for us, rising from the dead: We know He did it, but we can’t exactly see or say how. And so it is with other, vital things God brings us, like spiritual growth, like friendship, and love. How often I only notice these gifts after they have somehow crystallized, sometimes even at a difficult time of pain or loss, when I thought God wasn’t really paying attention. Glory be to Him today, Who from a dark and damp tomb brings us new life, where we least expected to find it. Christ is risen!