Considering this Sunday’s gospel reading from John, Mary Magdalene and the other women who went to the tomb where Jesus was buried could have easily found a note pinned on the outside which read: “Gone home for a little bit, be back soon to take you with me, love, Jesus.” Repeatedly, in the life and story of Jesus we hear the words, “Be not afraid” or “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” It seems we need to be constantly reminded of this. Fear of death, fear of loss, angst over the trials and tribulations of life all seem to induce us into a state of denial and paralysis. We either stand mute and helpless or run as fast as we can in the opposite direction. But there is nothing to be feared. The victory has been won; death has been conquered and Jesus is risen. The tomb was empty.
Not only that, so we won’t get lost, Jesus has left us a map on how to get home; and the map is Jesus himself. It is not too difficult to understand or figure it out, because it is the way of love and truth. Jesus is the GPS for finding our way to the fulfillment of our lives. As someone once said, God is home; we are in the far country. Because all we know is the life we are now living, it is often difficult to remember that we were never intended to be settlers but rather, pilgrims heading to our ultimate destination. But what most often holds us back is the fact that the doorway to this new destination is death — a subject and topic we are loathe to contemplate. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus the sting of death has been removed; it is not the end but the passage to a new beginning. As St. Paul reminds us in Romans 8, the pains of life do not end in death but in a new birthing, a new life.
Perhaps this week, it would be good to take some time to examine our attitudes and feelings toward death, our own death and that of our loved ones. Just keep in mind Jesus’ words that we are not to let our hearts be troubled. He is risen! Alleluia!