Why Are We Weeping?, Easter Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Francis Xavier Parish, Acushnet, MA
Easter Tuesday
April 7, 2015
Acts 2:36-41, Ps 33, Jn 20:11-18


To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 


The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • Today the Church continues to teach us in the readings of this Easter Octave how to respond to the reality of Jesus Resurrection so that it might change us similarly to the way it changed forever the lives of Jesus’ first followers.
  • In today’s Gospel, we see Mary Magdalene weeping copiously at Jesus’ empty tomb. She was bent over, heaving basically as she wept. She had probably been weeping like this from Good Friday as Jesus was led to Calvary. Her tears at his Crucifixion, her sadness at his death, were blinding her to what was happening all around her. Two angels in white are sitting there at Jesus’ tomb, something that should have startled her as the appearance of angel always startles, but their dazzling brilliance couldn’t penetrate the depth of her darkness. “Woman, why are you weeping?,” they asked, likely in a tone that went far beyond curiosity or fact-seeking inquisitiveness, but with a joy filled smile suggesting, “Ma’am, how could you possibly be crying?” But she just said, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” She loved the Lord Jesus and couldn’t stand to be apart from him. She thought someone had taken his body and, even though she thought he was dead, she at least wanted to be there at his body with the piety we often see at cemeteries where loved ones are regularly present. The fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to rise on the third day hadn’t yet penetrated. She was probably too much in sorrow that it was too painful for her to think about what Jesus had said before. Then, in one of the most touching scenes in the Gospel, Jesus himself came to her in his Risen Body, and asked her the same question, probably once again with a tone that should have suggested that the waterfalls running down her cheeks, however touching, were not in touch with reality! “Woman, why are you weeping?,” he asked. “For whom are you looking?” She turned around and saw Jesus there, but neither her eyes nor her ears recognized him. She thought he was a stranger and guessed that he was a gardener who for some reason would have had cause to move Jesus’ cadaver. “Sir, if you carried him away,” she pleaded, “tell me where you laid him and I will take him.” That would have been quite a site her carrying Jesus’ dead body! But it was clearly a sign of her loving affection. Jesus pierced through her sadness by calling her name, “Mary!,” he said. He probably said it in a tone that she well recognized. The one speaking was not a stranger, but the Good Shepherd who calls all his sheep by name. She turned around, called him “Rabbouni,” (Rabbi, Master or Teacher), and then started to hold onto his feet with such force that she would never lose him again. We’ve all had those hugs full of emotion when people never want to let us go. Jesus had to say to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” Jesus still had a mission to accomplish and she would not be able to keep her relationship with him as it was in the past or as it was in the present. Her relationship was about to change immediately, as Jesus made her an apostle to the apostles, saying, “Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” And off she went, announcing, “I have seen the Lord!”
  • There are so many lessons here for us! Many times, we, too, are so saddened by set-backs, pains, sufferings in ourselves and others, and even deaths, that we are sobbing on the inside and even on the outside. We can forget in all of this that Jesus Christ has triumphed over everything, giving even our sufferings redemptive meaning. We can forget that he is at our side in a way far more powerful than even he was at Mary’s side in the Garden. She couldn’t hold onto him because he hadn’t yet ascended, but after his Ascension, Jesus comes down in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, to hold onto us from the inside. He calls us by name. He sends other angels or messengers to us, and often seeks to ask us in prayer, “Why are you weeping?,” because he wants us to integrate those sad experiences with the reality of his resurrection. He taught us in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be consoled,” and Jesus’ risen presence with us is the greatest consolation of all! He wants us, like Mary, to be looking for him, to be seeking him, to be hungering to be in his presence and he never allows those longings to be in vain. He calls us individually by name and sends us on a mission to tell others about him. Each of us is called to say, “I have seen the Lord!” “I have heard the Lord!” “I have met the Lord!” “I have been changed by the Lord!” These are all realities that should happen to us at Mass and after Mass! Often we hold on to our sorrows or seek to cling to the Lord in our own way, while Jesus wants to transform us to become his ambassadors of the Good News and of the reality of his Risen Life. He’s constantly sending us on mission, helping us to grow, seeking to go call others by name to come to meet the Risen Jesus and let him transform them.
  • We see what happens in that transformation in Peter’s Pentecost proclamation 50 days later in today’s first reading. After Peter went through salvation history and talking about the certainty that God the Father has made Jesus whom we crucified by our sins both Lord and Christ, the people were cut to the heart and asked, “What are we to do?” How are we to respond? Peter was clear: “Repent and be baptized, everyone one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This was the means to “save [themselves] from this corrupt generation” by leaving corruption behind and entering into the salvation that that Lord and Christ had brought. Three thousand did on that day alone.
  • Today we are encouraged to ask the same question, “What are we to do?,” conscious that what we marked on Good Friday cut us totally to the heart, that our sins were the cause of the Good Lord’s murder. We’re also supposed to ask it conscious that those sins were not the last word, that Jesus has in fact been raised from the dead and now lives. What are we to do? Peter’s advice is still relevant. We first need to change our lives to live in accordance with the risen Lord. We need to live totally the reality of our baptism. St. Paul told us at the Easter Vigil, “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” And this specified one aspect of this new life of resurrection into which we have been brought at the end of the passage: “Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.” We need to die in Christ to sin because sins leads us to death. And we need to live for God in Christ Jesus. St. Peter tells us that when we are baptized, we receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit to make that new life possible, to help us to live for God in Christ Jesus. That’s what it means to live the Resurrection together with Jesus.
  • Today as we come not to an empty tomb but to this Church to meet the same Jesus Mary Magdalene met on Easter Sunday in the garden. She at first didn’t recognize him in his risen body and we often may fail really to recognize him in his humble Eucharistic disguise, but it is the Lord Jesus who calls us by name and sends us on mission. He has left the empty tomb in order to take up his abode in us and save us from the corruption that exists in every generation. We ask through the intercession of St. Mary Magdalene that the Lord may give us a similar desire to hers always to be with him, always to be looking for him, always to be in union with him. As we prayed in today’s Psalm, “Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield. May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us who [like Mary Magdalene] have put our hope in you!”

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 ACTS 2:36-41

On the day of Pentecost, Peter said to the Jewish people,
“Let the whole house of Israel know for certain
that God has made him both Lord and Christ,
this Jesus whom you crucified.”Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,
and they asked Peter and the other Apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”
Peter said to them,
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is made to you and to your children
and to all those far off,
whomever the Lord our God will call.”
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them,
“Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized,
and about three thousand persons were added that day.

Responsorial Psalm PS 33:4-5, 18-19, 20 AND 22

R. (5b) The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia PS 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”
which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,
for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.’”
Mary went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her.