The Gospel reading for Easter Day is John 20.1-9
It is the women who are the first to discover the empty tomb – as they faithfully keep vigil, even when all hope seems to be lost. It seems as if they now face a double loss. To lose his body as well as his life compounds their grief.
The stories of the resurrection do not represent a neat ‘happy ending’ – a reversal of all that has gone wrong. They show that on the other side of the cross, God’s new life breaks in. It breaks in in ways that disturb and surprise us. When Mary Magdalen greets Jesus later in this chapter, she is told not to touch him. Resurrection is not simply the return of what has been lost: it is the beginning of something very different. Mary should not cling to the earthly Christ, for it is as he ascends to the Father that he can become present in a new way, in the Church which is born at Pentecost.
For us too, Easter is not so much a consolation as an invitation. It is an opportunity to stop clinging on to whatever comforts us, and sheltering fearfully from the future. For whatever the future holds, we face it with a Lord who has faced – and conquered – the forces of sin and of death.