by Fr W. Nkomo
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From Fear to Faith on Easter Morning
John’s version of the resurrection paints a portrait of a journey that some of the early disciples had to make; a journey out of fear and into faith. It shows progressive nature of the experience of the resurrection which eventually leads to understanding it more deeply. Let Us reflect now on this journey as outlined in today’s Gospel.
First the reaction Mode as described in the text, begins with everyone in reaction mode, quite literally running about in a panic! This panic begins with Mary Magdalene who runs to Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved. We are told that Mary Magdalene sees direct evidence of the resurrection but presumes the worst: that grave robbers have snatched the Lord’s body! It doesn’t even occur to her to remember that Jesus had said that He would rise on the third day and that this was that very third day. After Mary’s report they all start running.
Secondly, the recovery mode in which Peter and the other disciple are brought to the tomb by Mary’s anxiety. In fact Peter and the other disciple are running to verify the grave robbery , not the resurrection. Like Mary they don’t take time to reflect. Arriving at the tomb their worst fear is confirmed, he is not there. In their discovery of the scene as reported by Mary they make a further discovery the linen which had covered Jesus is still there. Now with the new evidence they are led to the next stage.
Thirdly the reassessment mode which is more calm. After they both move further than Mary they take courage to reassess the evidence. This teaches us to reassess our initial reaction as further evidence comes in. We are told that what John sees leads him a step further. He now believes.
The final mode is the resurrection Mode. This is somewhat mysterious. The text qualifies the mystery, saying, they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. It is as if to say that John came to believe that Jesus had risen but had not yet come to fully understand all the scriptural connections and how this had to be. He only knew in his heart by love and through this evidence that Jesus was risen. This appears to be enough at this stage since it is the foundation on which deeper understanding would have to be received when it comes later. Here we must observe that St. John has gone from fear to faith. He has not yet seen Jesus alive, but he believes based on the evidence and on what his own heart and mind tell him.
This teaches us that faith and understanding come to us progressively so we must not lose heart when there are matters of the faith that appear mysterious. So we, like John, do not see the risen Lord, not yet anyway, but we see the evidence and we believe. St. John leaves this scene as a believer. His faith may not be the fully perfected faith, but he does believe. John has gone from fear to faith, from reaction to reflection, from panic to peace. This is what the resurrection should cultivate in every one of us.