Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.
Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“Seeing,” “hearing,” “knowing,” and “believing” are all key concepts in John’s Gospel. Near the end of his Gospel, John the Evangelist tells us, “Jesus did many other signs that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”
In John’s Easter Sunday Gospel, Mary of Magdala comes to Simon Peter and to “the other disciple that Jesus loved” (very often identified as John himself), and tells them that the body of Jesus has been taken away from the tomb, and that she has no idea where it is. Peter and John then run to the tomb. John, yielding to Peter’s authority as the leader of the disciples in the Lord’s absence, bends down to look into the tomb, seeing the burial cloths there, but doesn’t go in. When Peter arrives, he goes in, and finds the burial shroud there, but what seems most to impress Peter is that the cloth that had covered the head of Jesus was not on the ground, scattered or torn, but “rolled up in a separate place.”
How that cloth was treated seems to convince Peter that the body of Jesus was not stolen or moved, but that something else happened. And then, John tells us, that when he finally followed Peter into the tomb, he “saw and believed.” What will it take for us to believe? What will remove our every doubt? What experience of the power of the Risen Lord does God want us to have this Easter of 2016? May our prayer be that we, too, will come to “see and believe.”
—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, S.J. serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu, University Heights, OH.
Holy God, Give peace and hope to our fractured world. ay the risen Jesus breathe on our minds and open our eyes to know him in the breaking of bread,
and follow him in his risen life. Amen!