What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in the semblance of a gardener, God walked again in the garden, in the cool, not of the evening, but of the dawn. (C.K. Chesterton)
When I read in the Gospels that the women went in haste to the Tomb early at dawn the day after the Sabbath, I imagine that the delightful scent of the sweet-smelling oils and aromatic spices they were carrying was leaving a perfumed path to the empty Tomb. Because they were immersed in grief and sadness, the women were unable to perceive the wonderful fragrance or enjoy the beauty and glory of the greatest Day in history which was unfolding before their very eyes. Like many people in the world today, their minds were still fixed on the Tomb and their eyes still focused down on earth, looking for the living among the dead.
Mary Magdalene, oblivious of the life-changing event that had just happened, was sobbing in the garden near the entrance to the Tomb. She had not yet comprehended that the Son of Man would suffer and be crucified, and on the third day rise again; she had not grasped the implications of the stunning words of Jesus: I am the Resurrection and the Life, whoever believes in Me, will never die. (John 11:25) Though, when the Gardener spoke her name, “Mary!” all was changed. Her grief and sadness turned into peace and joy! Her heart was utterly transformed and the world, in an instant, became a different place at the sight of the Risen Lord.
An encounter with Jesus changes everything, including us! As St. Paul affirms: Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Jesus has triumphed over evil and has completely and forever destroyed sin and death. He has brought Light and Life to a doomed universe. Pain, suffering, and death are no longer our destiny; they are, in reality, things of the past.
The new life that Jesus offers us is not just a better life, but a mind-shattering New Life. He is offering us an eternal happiness much higher than the one man enjoyed in the Garden of Eden. We have the assurance of St. Paul who experienced the third heaven: Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, it has not even entered the mind of man the things that God has prepared for those who love Him. (1 Corinthians 2:9) Yes, the Life that Jesus came to give us is nothing less than a share in His own Divine Life, a free gift from God. St. John, the beloved disciple, puts it beautifully:Dearly beloved, we are God’s children now; but what we shall be has not been revealed yet. We know that when it is revealed, we will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2) That is Good News!
Let us detach our minds from earthly cravings and fix our eyes on Jesus. We will be able to perceive the dawning of a glorious new day. Then, like the faithful women, we will want to share with everyone that He is alive! He has opened for us a beautiful path perfumed with the fragrance of His love to lead us, not to the tomb, but to eternal life. There is no need to be afraid. He will walk side by side with us, as in the beginning, in the Garden. The world needs to hear from people who, like the first witnesses of the Resurrection, have experienced the utter transformation, the profound joy, peace, and freedom that come from an intimate encounter with Jesus.
Let us gaze intensely above at the love of the Crucified and listen to His voice calling us by name. The door to immortality and everlasting bliss has been opened wide; we have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb and the banquet is ready. He has boldly affirmed: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. (John 6:54) Jesus himself is the food for the journey. He is the Bread of Life. Let us dress in spotless white garments and enter the eternal Feast.
Enjoy and celebrate! Christ is truly Risen! We are heirs of Eternal Life!
Sister Marta is a Sister Disciple of the Divine Master from Nicaragua. A former Architect and City Planner, she became a professed Secular Franciscan in 1997 and joined the Congregation of the Sister Disciples in 2000. She currently lives at the Pauline Disciple of the Divine Master convent in Boston, Massachusetts.