By Sister Veronica Brand, RSHM
In these first weeks of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, bare trees and rustling, fallen leaves are being interrupted by the first shoots of green, the first crocuses and daffodils breaking through hard ground. Life is resilient, even in the harsh conditions of winter marked by extreme weather events. Buds are appearing, tiny shoots are breaking out of the greyness. New life is evidenced in creation around us, and within us. What seemed to be hopeless is bursting with new life.
Today we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus – an event which defies logic and challenges our imagination while offering us hope of all that will be transformed. New life happens in the bursting forth of life from death. In overcoming death, Jesus opens the way. As Pope Francis reminds us “it is the Resurrection itself that opens us to greater hope, for it opens our life and the life of the world to the eternal future of God, to full happiness, to the certainty that evil, sin and death may be overcome”.
After this painful year-long Lent of COVID there is pain and fear, loss and grief. So many people in our world are suffering, with lives and livelihoods upended. We can readily identify with the disciples of Jesus on the road to Emmaus as we experience the “we had hoped” of disappointment. We had hoped that the pandemic would have been over by now, that things would have returned to normal. But instead, we are asked to be prophets of hope.
Who can better be our guide than Mary of Magdala? Together with the other women she dared to visit the tomb when it was still dark. It was she who stayed and she who dared to run and tell the male disciples what she had seen even though she couldn’t grasp its meaning. Through her tears she encountered the risen Jesus who called her by name.As the first apostle of the Resurrection, Mary of Magdala challenges us not to be afraid to go to the tomb, even to ‘stay’ there in our unknowing, but then to go and tell the Good News. Where are we being called to be present in emptiness today, proclaiming presence?
The power of resurrection is within us, the promise of a better world, the dawn of hope. As the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote: “Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us…”[i] In this pre-dawn darkness Mary Magdalene stands as an icon of hope-filled searching, grounded in love and expressed in passion and compassion. We too, are called to be “women of passion and compassion, impelled to go out to announce the Good News” (Gen Chapter 2019) that life overcomes death.
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