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Daily reading: 12 April

Easter Sunday.

Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?

- John 20:15 from full reading John 20:1-18 .

Something to think about

‘The world is more full of weeping than you can understand.’ William Butler Yeats, Irish poet.

Some have called her crazy – crazy for standing at the foot of the cross and risking association with this enemy of the state who is being executed; crazy for getting up and coming to the tomb, in the dark and on her own, according to John’s account of the resurrection.  

Whatever craziness Mary Magdalene has been accused of, she comes up with a very rational explanation of events as she approaches the open tomb. Even in the darkness she can see a deeper darkness where the stone has been removed from the entrance. For her, the stark reality is: ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid him.’ 

The body that had been flogged, crucified and pierced; the body that had been anointed in life by Mary of Bethany with perfume and tears; the body that had been anointed in death by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus with myrrh and aloes, wrapped in linens and laid in a new tomb – this is the body that has been taken. 

No body to grieve over, to be near, to help the reality of the last week of events to sink in. Without the body to grieve over, Mary weeps all the more. 

‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ It seems like an obvious question to ask this woman by an empty grave? These are tears of grief and loss. ‘Why are you weeping?’ is a question that can be asked of many women across the world. 

Many women, like Mary Magdalene, are marginalised; they bear the brunt of much loss – loss of dignity, loss of choice and even loss of life. 

Dr Singha, executive director of Christian Aid partner Dushtha Shasthya Kendra (DSK) in Bangladesh, tells the story of a woman who came to sign the deeds for her new home – a home built to resist the increasing incidence and intensity of flooding caused by a changing climate.

She was asked her name in order to complete the paperwork, and she began to weep. She was asked: ‘Why are you weeping?’ to which she replied: ‘No one has ever asked me my name. I have always been the daughter of someone, the sister of someone, the wife of someone, the mother of someone.’ 

‘Women, why are you weeping?’ Mary hears a voice tenderly ask her the same question a second time. John gives us a reader’s view and we, along with Jesus, will her to the moment of recognition. One word is enough. 

In hearing her name, Mary knows and is known. Today, all those who weep are invited to listen, to hear their name and to know that they and their circumstances of grief and experiences of suffering are known as they are known. 

Their weeping has not gone unnoticed or without understanding. Jesus also once stood by a tomb and wept. He was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved when he saw the tears of Mary and Martha by the tomb of their brother Lazarus. He was grieved by the hold of suffering and death in the world. 

There is indeed a time for weeping, but today is not that day, unless they are tears of joy. Today, Jesus’s words: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’ (John 11:25) become flesh. Today, we are willed to the moment of recognition that every tear will be wiped away, that death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more. 

‘Christian hope begins where every other hope stands frozen stiff before the face of the unspeakable,’ according to Thomas Merton. Even in the face of the unspeakable suffering of the world, we are given the hope of another possible world; a world that is free from extreme poverty and suffering. 

This is not an escapist hope but a hope that we put into practice every time we give, act and pray with Christian Aid. It is the hope that while weeping lasts for a night, joy will come in the morning. 

Today, we are willed to look beyond what may seem to be the stark reality of things and recognise the hope that is ours in Christ Jesus. Hallelujah! 

Something to do

Something to pray

This is the day of new creation. 

LET US REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT. 

This is the day of resurrection. 

LET US REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT. 

This is the day of peace restored. 

LET US REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT.  

This is the day of life abundant. 

LET US REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT. 

This is the day the Lord has made. 

LET US REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT. 

Today’s contributor is Wendy Lloyd, who coordinates worship and theology resources at Christian Aid.

Published on 12 April 2020

Resource language
English
Location
  • Global
Themes – Areas of work
  • Theology