SURPRISED AGAIN

Sunday, September 18, 2016


"And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen (ἀνατείλαντος τοῦ ἡλίου). And they were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?’ And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were alarmed (ἐξεθαμβήθησαν). And he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him…” (Mk 16: 1-6)

 

I love how the Evangelist mentions that “the sun had risen” at the beginning of this story, as if hinting at its surprise-ending. At least that’s what I think every time I hear the words, “when the sun had risen” (возсиявшу солнцу in Slavonic), in this well-known Resurrection-Gospel. The Sun of Righteousness had, indeed, risen! The Evangelist knows it. And we know it. But the ladies heading to the tomb don’t know it yet. They’re about to hear the best news ever related to humanity, and yet their initial reaction will be to be “alarmed.” That is to say, un-pleasantly surprised, and filled with fear… They will still need to “process” this unexpected turn of events…I don’t really have any point to make here. Except to take pause and appreciate, once again, the alarming “surprise” in this story. Let the “news” related here be “new” to me today, on this Sunday: He has risen. He is not here. So that “we too may walk in newness of life.” (Rom 6: 4) Let me do that today.

 

But my point is not to argue with anyone. “…I mean no harm,” as Bob Dylan says, “nor put fault / On anyone that lives in a vault…” Let me be reminded today, for myself, of our Lord’s admonishments to the scribes and Pharisees, that I be sensitive to His voice in the here and now. Let me “be attentive” to the authorities He sends me today, that I may have the eyes to see, and the ears to hear, where He is leading me in the today.

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