Easter is fifty days, people!
April 19, 2022
Mary Magdalene stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, `I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Less than 48 hours have passed since we unearthed the alleluias that remained buried throughout the six weeks of Lent. Though my body aches from the calisthenics of Holy Week, my heart is still flying high on Easter’s unbridled joy and renewal. I could live in this moment forever.
Soon enough though, I’ll head to the grocery store where I’ll be greeted with giant red “Clearance” signs over the bin of Easter candy telling me Easter is over.
“Hold up! Easter is fifty days, people!” I’ll want to yell.
Instead, I’ll take advantage of the half-priced M&Ms and wonder if I—like the rest of the world—should just move on and start preparing for the next big thing…whatever that is.
Truth be told, I don’t want to move on. I’ll do anything to hold on to the sharp contrast between Good Friday’s sorrow and Easter’s unhinged wonder. Like Mary Magdalene at the sight of Jesus outside the empty tomb, I’m scared that if I let go of the glory I encountered on Sunday morning, I’ll never experience it again. After the roller coaster of emotions, expectations, and disappointment of the past two years, can I—or any of us—be faulted for needing to cling to a kind of joy for which our souls have so desperately longed?
As tempting as it to want to rest in solidarity with Mary Magdalene’s hesitation, Jesus pulls us back…or rather, he calls us forward: “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go and tell the others.”
For years I read Jesus’s words as an admonition. Now, with the constant threat of the proverbial shoe dropping again, they strike me as an invitation to lean into the promise that in Christ all things are being made new. In other words, Mary could not cling to Jesus and that particular moment because the story was not done, is not done. There was more in store.
Yes, we may want to hold on to the glory of Easter Sunday out of fear that darkness lurks around the bend. Yes, it’s annoying that Target has declared Easter “over.”
But what if the call of these 50 days is to let go of any attempts at thwarting disappointment by telling ourselves that any moment of joy and new life we experience is the last one we’ll ever experience? What if we dare to believe that our story is not over?
Photo: Weeping Mary, Martin Grommel, Creative Common License