In our daily prayers God was every manner of image and metaphor and meaning, and always, "God the Father." We never ever prayed to "God our Mother." What were women in the economy of God? The answer was only too painful: We were invisible. I had given my life to a God who did not see me, did not include me, did not touch my nature with God's own....Joan Chittister, "Called to Question"

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Easter 2

A reflection on the readings for Easter 2: John  20:1-18, by The Rev. Margaret Rose

The 2nd Sunday of Easter is the anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood.  This year it will be 31 years.  I don’t often  remember the  calendar date—It was April 18,I think,  but  the liturgical date is etched in memory—not just because of the ordination, but more because of  the Gospel, appointed for all three years.  It is of course, “doubting Thomas” and seemed so apt for my own situation, on that day in in the years that followed.     Of course, this is true for many of us.  We need to see the signs of the cross and the resurrection, and no doubt over and over again in order to say with Thomas,  “My Lord and my God”.  

  For myself, the signs of resurrection have asserted themselves over and over again, and not least  when it seemed that Good Friday would be the end of the story.  Just in those moments when I most needed it, Jesus, in some form or another would appear in the metaphorical room of my life with the  invitation to put my hand in his wounded side assuring me of his presence as we walk together into new life.  
Like Thomas,  I wanted to know that God did not abandon “his” own  on the cross, that there was “proof” of God’s love for this only son.  In the resurrection appearances after Easter we get that—in the upper room, in Jesus coming to the disciples on the water, in his cooking fish on the beach.   Jesus’ words on the cross ,  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  were indeed not his last.  The disciples and the evangelists in the gospels tell the story of his return, the assurance that a loving God will be present to the end of time.      
A recent reflection from a parish newsletter reiterated this, noting that the greatest evidence for the resurrection  was the transformation of the disciples.  The newsletter quoted   John Stott who said , “It was the resurrection which transformed Peter’s fear into courage and James’ doubt into faith.  It was the resurrection which changed Saul into Paul and from persecution to preaching.”  I suspect he would continue by asserting as well that it was the resurrection which turned Thomas’s doubt into belief.
All this is no doubt true.  I felt comforted by this Gospel text myself, all those years ago and even now, assured that in the moments of doubt and fear,God will come to me, offering what I, what we, need to continue the journey of discipleship.  
But what about the women?  They needed no such transformative experiences in order to believe!  Mary Magdalene, Mary, Joanna , the others who may have been at the cross or the tomb  needed no such proof.   There was no 3 time  denial and subsequent affirmation of the identity of Jesus, there was simply action and attention. Go and tell.  And they did!   Of course we don’t have much written record of their stories.  But what we do have is rather one of astonishment than  disbelief!    Their transformations seemed to have already happened as they traveled with Jesus along the way, witnessing the healing of the woman with the flow of blood, calling another to stand straight after years of living a bent over life, noting that he paid attention to that importunate widow who would not stop asking for what she wanted, or to the woman who defied him in declaring that even the dogs get the food under the table.   Their transformation began with Jesus and continued before the horror of the crucifixion, during their vigil at the  cross, as they went to anoint his body and when they saw and  believed when the tomb was empty.    
Today I give thanks for Thomas, who expresses so much of what we all need—to see and touch to believe.  But in this season as well, I give thanks for those women who continued to be transformed by their life with Jesus  in his death and in his resurrection.  
I am reminded of the hymn from  the Episcopal church hymnal:

Blessed is She who Believes:
 The first one ever, oh ever to know of the birth of Jesus 
was the Maid Mary,                                                       
was Mary the maid of Galilee                                                                                                         
and blessed is she who believes.
The first one ever, oh, ever to know  of Messiah,
 Jesus when he said, “I am he,”                                              
 was the Samaritan woman who drew from the well,                                                                               
 and blessed is she, who perceives.
The first ones ever oh, ever to know of the rising of Jesus,
 his glory to be, were Mary, Joanna,  and Magdalene,                                                                       
 and blessed are they who see.

Margaret Rose

1 comment:

Terri said...

I apologize for the wonky formatting of this reflection...for some reason the blog will not save the spacing and edits I employ to have this read the way it is suppose too.