Let us Lectio: While it Was Still Dark

by Callie Nowlin

North Texas Catholic

4/16/2019

The Appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene by Alexander Ivanov, c. 1835.


Easter Sunday, The Resurrection of the Lord, April 21, 2019


Steps to Lectio Divina

Start by using these steps to reflect on the Scripture verse. Then read my meditation slowly.

Lectio: Having asked for the grace to hear God's word, read the passage twice.

Meditatio: During the second reading, pause whenever so moved and reflect on a word, a sentence, or an image that strikes you.

Oratio: Speak directly to God, and open your reflection to Him.

Contemplatio: Listen contemplatively for any response God might choose to make. Remember that God responds to us at times with loving silence.
 

The Scripture

From the Gospel for April 21, 2019 the Mass of Easter Day (John 20:1-9)

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark, 
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter 
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, 
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, 
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter 
and arrived at the tomb first; 
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him, 
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, 
and the cloth that had covered his head, 
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in, 
the one who had arrived at the tomb first, 
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture 
that he had to rise from the dead.

 

Reflection

This reading is the first proclamation of the Gospel after the Easter Vigil, and on this Easter morning we recall the first witnesses to the empty tomb and the resurrection.

Mary Magdalene was among the few disciples who stayed at the Blessed Virgin’s side on Good Friday. There she saw the very suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. Thus in the darkness of the pre-dawn morning she sought to steal away silently to mourn at the grave of Jesus.

While the darkness of Holy Saturday still loomed, she quietly came to the tomb of Jesus. In this combination of despair and grief, surely she was bewildered when she saw the large stone had been removed from Jesus’ grave. In the face of confusion and anguish she ran to Peter and the apostle John for help. How beautiful it is that she ran to those who had been entrusted with stewardship of the mysteries of Christ.

While it was still dark, still heartbroken and laden with grief, she ran to the side of Jesus. Soon, John and Peter join her to witness and give testimony to the empty tomb, but at this point they had no answer, as they had not yet encountered the resurrected Christ. Only with the light of Christ in the resurrection does the suffering and grief of the Passion of Christ and the darkness of sin make sense.

In the darkness of Holy Saturday, in the silence of the unknown, in the heaviness of grief, Mary Magdalene entrusted herself to Christ. This is where the reading ends, but the Easter Octave has just begun.

It is true, even before the dawn has broken, Jesus is truly risen from the dead. But it would not be until after these disciples leave, allowing her to grieve in solitude, that she would encounter the risen Jesus, the reason for our joy.

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Callie Nowlin, MTS, is the Director of Religious Education for Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Abbott and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Penelope.

 

 

 


Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

This reading is the first proclamation of the Gospel after the Easter Vigil, and on this Easter morning we recall the first witnesses to the empty tomb and the resurrection.

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