“Woman, why are you weeping?”
Easter should be the feast most unclouded by grief and heartbreak. Even nature seems to break forth in an unmatched “Hallelujah” as the spring is gently unveiled through flowers, zephyr, and relentless birdsong. After all, this octave of Easter is “the day that the Lord has made (Psalm 118).” Today, death is utterly vanquished by the breath of God that runs through previously asphyxiated lungs. The sins that bored literal holes into the hands and feet of the Creator are rendered powerless by a love that goes to Hell and back for the beloved. Bitterness is washed up in the sweet water that flows from a pierced heart and into the ocean of mercy.
THIS is the day the Lord has made. Amen, Hallelujah! And yet, the first words to come from the mouth of the risen Christ in John’s Gospel are, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
Of course, the answer is quite simple. Mary weeps because she believes that her Teacher, the one who she believed to be the Messiah, is now lost to her forever. She weeps because she doesn’t know that He is alive.
2000 years later, I hear the Lord asking me the same question more frequently than I care to admit. “Larisa, why are you weeping?” My reasons tend to be far less noble than Mary’s cause to cry. And yet, my tears tend to have the same source that Mary’s tears had as they watered the garden dirt on that first Easter Sunday. I don’t really know that He’s alive.
Of course, I believe in the Resurrection. I can rattle off every Catholic Answers Live proof for the Resurrection and walk you through a step-by-step analysis of the Shroud of Turin in under two minutes if I don’t come up for air (thank you, forensic science class in junior year, for the shroud project). And I also have enough Faith to supernaturally accept the ultimate mystery of Christ’s Resurrection and our salvation. 2000 years of Church history and intellectual tradition really should give me a step up on Mary Magdalen, who had no knowledge of the Resurrection when she was crying on Sunday. And yet, if I really grasped the Resurrection, if I lived every moment with the confidence that my redeemer lives, would I be so caught up in these little things? Would I be so afraid of myself and the decisions I make with prudence and proper discernment? Would I be crying in dread of the opinions of others? Would I be fixated on how I look and how I am perceived, stressed over scheduling and finances?
Life has taught me what Good Friday looks like. Life has definitely taught me what it is to live in Holy Saturday. But I am in need of deep conversion on Easter Sunday. I need to turn away from the empty tomb and into the eyes of the One who calls me by my true name. I need to be taught by Rabbouni.
Should I know better than to be so concerned with passing things? Yes! Jesus Christ is alive and because He lives, nothing else matters. But while I am so impatient with myself and my lack of trust, the risen Victor is still the tender physician that He was when He first exorcised the seven demons through the waters of my baptism. Teachers in the Church speak of the sacredness of tears and how they can actually be a gift. Even when my tears are imperfect, Jesus still meets me in those moments of sorrow. “Woman, why are you weeping?” He asks. Sometimes my reasons are silly. Other times, they are more like the tears of His mother, tears which come from a heart that knows that Resurrection is coming, but which still breaks over the suffering of those I love.
Regardless of my tears, regardless of my answers to His questions, His answer is always the same. He will always stoop down to my tear-streaked face, even when I should be happy. He will always wipe away those tears with His scarred hand. He will say my name with the same love and gentleness that He had when He placed me in my mother’s womb. He will teach me what it is to live as a resurrected creature until the night of this world breaks into endless dawn and the glory of Sunday is no longer mingled with the tears of Friday.
Until then, my vision of the eternal garden will be blurred. But even when my eyes are too full to recognize the new Adam, He will always see me as His own.