But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, " Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken my Lord, and I don't know where they laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" She thought it was the gardener and said to him, "Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni," which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' " Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord, " and what he told her. (John 20:11-18)
Mary had been at the tomb earlier, "...while it was still dark." (John 20:1) When she first came, she saw that the stone had been rolled away from the front of the tomb. Frightened, and without looking inside, she ran to tell Peter and John. When they returned, Peter entered first, then John followed. Although the account does not say so, they must have told Mary that Jesus's body was gone. Then the story concludes, "For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned home." (vs.9-10)
You do not have to sit outside in the dark,
If, however, you want to look at the stars,
you will find that darkness is required
The stars neither require it nor demand it.
Can we imagine the heartache and the pain Mary was feeling? Over the past three days, the one who she loved more than life itself had been betrayed by one of his friends and deserted by the others. Then, falsely accused and convicted, Jesus was humiliated and tortured beyond human endurance, and nailed upon a cross, abandoned and forsaken by the very people who had cheered and placed palms upon his path as he entered Jerusalem, proclaiming,
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" (Mark 11:9)
And now, someone had taken away his body. Would there be no end to the indignities Jesus would have to suffer? Even in death, he cannot rest. Still weeping, she moves closer to the tomb...she looks inside. [she] saw two angels in white sitting there..." (v.12) I find it interesting that the angels appear to Mary, but were not there, or were not seen, by Peter or John. I believe that this is because of the great love and faithfulness Mary had for Jesus. I think Mary knew, more than the other disciples, of her need for Jesus; that her strength was in Jesus and she could not, and would not leave him, neither in his suffering nor in his death. Peter and John came out of the tomb and went home; Mary went into the tomb, still looking for Jesus.
Appearing in a form that did not frighten her, the angels asked Mary why she was weeping. Mary answered that someone had taken Jesus, and that she could not find him. Then, "...she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" (v.14-15) Yes, initially, Mary did not know that she had found Jesus, the one she was looking for. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that Jesus had found Mary.
Jesus asked Mary who she was looking for. Isn't Jesus also asking me the same question? Or maybe in my life, it's better said, "What am I looking for?" And if I'm looking for some thing, then I'm a dead man. Because, from what source will I draw my life? From success? Praise from others? Power? Wealth? Self-esteem? Popularity? Can I, in all honesty convince myself that it is for one of these things that God created me? If I am made in his image and likeness, where in Jesus's life and teachings do I read of how important success, popularity, power and wealth is? So if it's not a what I should be looking for, then it has to be a who! And I know that there is only one, who gives me life.
And the great news is that not only do I know that it's God who I must look for, but that God is always looking for me! And He is everywhere to be found; in all of His creation, and in the depths of my soul. But the Mystery of Calvary tells us that we must first die, before we can really live in Christ. We need to die of our earthly attachments and desires, and give ourselves over to His will, knowing that death is never the end, but a new beginning. This is beautifully said in this piece from an ancient homily from Holy Saturday:
"Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.
Rise up, work of my hands, you were created in my image
Rise, let us leave this place
for you are in me, and I am in you
Together we form only one person
and we cannot be separated."