This post is based on Week Eight of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure.
I wonder what the time between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning was like for the disciples of Jesus. They witnessed his death and buried his body, and they waited for the first daybreak after the Sabbath to visit the tomb. Were they speaking with each other, trying to make sense of what had happened, or did they sit in silence? Did they comfort each other, mourn together, try to eat? Could they sleep? What does anyone do after a tragedy?
I imagine this waiting-time was filled with uncertainty and longing. There was also fear; this we know from the Gospel accounts. They waited, not knowing what would happen next. While I usually associate waiting with the Advent season, I wonder now if Lent captures a different side of waiting, the kind the disciples might have felt. Perhaps this waiting is sober, more guttural, full of groanings and longings. We become aware of our vulnerability, our dependence, and our need.
And yet this vulnerability opens us to God’s surprises. Mary Magdalene was surprised when he called her name. Peter and his fellow fisherman were surprised by the sudden pull in their casted nets. Thomas was surprised by the solidness of the person in front of him. The men walking the road to Emmaus were surprised by their guest at table, later noticing the longing within themselves: “Were not our hearts burning within us on the road?”
We too recognize the Resurrected Jesus in these moments of surprise—in a familiar voice calling us by name, in unexpected abundance, in a concrete experience of God’s presence, in the breaking of the bread. These surprises are moments of recognition—when we know the Risen God is in our midst and that Easter is not a one-time event. The wait is over and daybreak comes. Joy surprises, and everywhere resurrection is happening.
By the way – we don’t know that the disciples on the road to Emmaus were both men, do we?
Great ideas for thinking about during these 50 days of Easter! I’m going to keep my eyes open for surprises in my life!
This is such a meaningful article for me and it makes me wonder at the surprises that has already been happening but barely giving God thanks if I do notice at all. I wish to be more hopeful for the many surprises each day brings. Thank you so much!
As our homilist reminded us yesterday, we know “the rest of the story,” but for first century disciples of Jesus, this tragedy was a new experience. Given the politics of the time, I imagine these disciples were consumed by both fear and terrible loss. I can’t imagine “hope” and “yearning” or “waiting.” I think these people were devastated, grief-stricken, and in great need of consolation. I read somewhere that Judaism of the time did not believe in “heaven,” though there are OT references to “Sheol” where souls live on in a sort of shadowy limbo. Jesus’ death probably felt like the end to the disciples. So I think, on Easter morning, learning that the tomb was empty completely stunned especially Peter. Maybe Jesus’ teachings and promises were suddenly awakening hope and understanding. And thereafter, Jesus, in his glorified body, keeps telling people “Do not be afraid.” For me, this speaks volumes–comforting me and telling me not to be afraid of my own eventual death, of my suffering, my losses, and brokenness, etc. Stuff we all may experience because we are human and Jesus shared our humanity. I think, in the Resurrection, Jesus offers us a share in His divinity.
Thank you, something new to think about. But Jesus taught I go to prepare a place for you, and on the cross to the thief, you will be with me. Wonderful New Testament words..
These exact thoughts have also been on my mind since the Good Friday liturgy. What did the 11 and the others do between Friday night and Easter morning? In the Gospel reading of Easter Sunday we hear the word “ran” twice. I wonder what happened to make them run now and forget the fear that had paralyzed them?