By Dr. Carol Younger
Have you ever been asked what time period you’d like to have lived in – other than your own, I mean? I always thought that was a useless question. Why wonder that? Give up 21st century comforts for some previous, technologically inferior, less healthful, less secure society? Not for me. I need a decent hotel waiting at the end of a day’s travel.
Or so I believed until I heard Pope Francis’ words on Easter. He spoke of the women with Blessed Mother Mary. The women’s hope and faith in the future had been shattered by Jesus’ death and burial. On this darkest night of history, Francis said, Mary encouraged these frightened, sorrowing women with faith and hope. Not even slightly wavering, Mary watched and prayed with them. I suddenly wanted to be there with her also, to hear her encouraging words, to watch and pray with her for strength and courage. I wanted to be with Mary, my Mother.
At the earliest moment on the third day, these women walked out into the dawn, going to where Jesus was buried. Carrying their ointments, they did not stay away, locked up in fear. Courageous, they stepped out into the coming light as the Pope put it, “with their hearts anointed with love.” Their only question as they walked? How will we get in to that place of death where Jesus is buried?
They arrived at the garden, making their way to the tomb in the half-light. They see the stone already rolled back, and they still don’t hesitate. They enter the mystery of death itself. And, where Jesus had been in death, they see instead an angel in white light, waiting for their arrival.
Imagine their tentative steps forward, and the reward of seeing and hearing the angel! How changed their hearts and minds! The tomb is empty. Death cannot hold Him Whom they love! They will see him again.
How I wanted to be there with them! I wanted to be invited to go with them. Maybe it would be good after all to live in another time, to watch and pray in faith with Mary, to go to the garden with those women, to enter the mysterious tomb, to hear the angel’s message, and later to hear my own name pronounced in love by my risen Lord…
Come to think of it, I can go there. Only, it’s in my future, not the past. We will pass into and through that tomb. We will all, in the future, at the time of our own entrance through the garden, make that mysterious passage into eternal Life. We will hear Him when He says to His Bride:
I have come to my garden, my sister, my bride. I gather my myrrh with my spices. I eat my honeycomb with my honey. I drink my wine with my milk. Eat, friends: drink! Drink deeply, lovers!
(Song of Songs 5:1)
Dr. Carol Younger – A Senior Fellow for the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, Advisory Board Member for the Great Adventure Bible Studies, author of Listening and Study Guides for biblical and theological presentations through St. Joseph Communications, author of the Retreat Companion for 33 Days to Morning Glory through Marian Press. An accomplished leader in public and private education and a popular adjunct professor at an evangelical Christian university in Southern California. Active in many parish ministries, including RCIA and Catechetical training.