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VATICAN - AVE MARIA :
Mgr. Luciano Alimandi
The faith of Mary
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - “When the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices with which to go and anoint him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. They had been saying to one another, 'Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?' But when they looked they saw that the stone-which was very big-had already been rolled back. On entering the tomb they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right-hand side, and they were struck with amazement. But he said to them, 'There is no need to be so amazed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here." ” (Mk 16, 1-7).
At dawn on the Third Day, the women disciples of Jesus, who had seen him bleed to death on the cross, on that Good Friday, - the holiest Friday in all history, went to the Tomb to anoint the Lord's body. On the way they wondered if they would be able to move the great rock which had been put over the entrance. But on reaching the place they find the tomb open and empty. What is more inside they find an angel waiting to give them the wonderful news: “ Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here ”!
The resurrection of Christ, as the evangelists narrate it, is a historic event which 'escapes' our senses, it brushes away all human barriers and transcends earthly reality, as we hear from the Holy Father: “The resurrection, then, is not a theory, but a historical reality revealed by the man Jesus Christ by means of his “Passover”, his “passage”, that has opened a “new way” between heaven and earth (cf. Heb 10:20). It is neither a myth nor a dream, it is not a vision or a utopia, it is not a fairy tale, but it is a singular and unrepeatable event: Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, who at dusk on Friday was taken down from the Cross and buried, has victoriously left the tomb. In fact, at dawn on the first day after the Sabbath, Peter and John found the tomb empty. Mary Magdalene and the other women encountered the risen Jesus. On the way to Emmaus the two disciples recognized him at the breaking of the bread. The Risen One appeared to the Apostles that evening in the Upper Room and then to many other disciples in Galilee. ” (Benedict XVI, Easter Message 12 April 2009).
The scene which meets the eyes of the women is paradoxical: the tomb is empty, like their desolate hearts, but an angel inside says Jesus is no longer there because he has come back to life. The angel helps them find their faith again which had weakened, to rise up to another horizon which leads believers to 'look' beyond the human and seek the things of heaven. The Lord sends angels to help us, to pull us out of many existential voids, dark places of incredulity, of lives marked by resistance to grace, and they urge us not to doubt but to believe, because only to believers is the mysterious presence of the Risen Lord revealed.
Faith, the faith of the disciples, of the holy women, the faith of the Church, does not render the Risen Jesus present, instead it enables us to 'meet' him, to 'experience him', to recognize his saving work among us. How absurd is the theory that Christ's resurrection depended on the faith of the apostles, as if faith could have brought him back to life! This idea is misleading and totally unfounded. The testimony of the apostles is the exact opposite: it is the Risen Lord who revives their failing faith, as it happened with the disciples at Emmaus, with Thomas, with all of us! The Resurrection of Jesus precedes and renders possible the faith of the first and of all the other disciples down to our day. They believed in an Event which happened, not in something which could have happened! Jesus reveals himself to those who believe in his love, this is why the angel of the Lord led the holy women to make an act of faith “he is not here he is risen”, just as another angel, archangel Gabriel, on the day of the Annunciation, asked Mary to believe “nothing is impossible for God” (Lk 1, 37). What an extraordinary grace is a fervent act of faith in Jesus: I believe, without any doubt I believe!
The Gospel tells us that when Peter and John run to the tomb, on the morning of the resurrection, after Mary Magdalene has told them that the body of Christ is not there. John enters the tomb and sees the linen cloths in which the body of Jesus had been wrapped lying on the ground and believes, “he saw and believed” (Gv 20, 8). John, unlike Peter, believes immediately because his heart is lighter than that of Peter who had denied the Lord three times. John's heart was ready for generous act of love which led him to believe profoundly in the power of the resurrection. His heart was similar to that of a child. In my experience as a catechist and later as a priest, in numerous meetings, catechesis, liturgies with children, I have never met a child who was an atheist. A child's heart is not choked with self love, it is free and open like the heart of John.
Our Blessed Lady believed totally in the Lord's promises and that therefore he would rise again “on the third day” (cfr. Lk 9, 22), because she is the most selfless of creatures. She did not go to the tomb with the other women, if she had the Gospels would have said so. The holy women were with her at the foot of the Cross, but she was not with them at the tomb. Why? Even a child would know the answer: she did not go to the tomb because she knew it was empty! Our Lady encountered her Risen Son, she needed no message from the angel, or the women in order to believe. Her faith was as sound as rock and in faith she waited for the Risen Jesus. She did not go to see a dead body, instead she was visited by her Son in his Risen Body. What a marvelous meeting that must have been! Perhaps too marvelous even for words to describe.
John at the end of his Gospel writes “There was much else that Jesus did; if it were written down in detail, I do not suppose the world itself would hold all the books that would be written. ” (Jn 21, 25). Perhaps not even a whole Gospel would suffice to describe the encounter between the Risen Lord and his Mother Mary!
(Agenzia Fides 15/4/2009; righe 69, parole 1098)