What do you see as you peer into the empty tomb?
Then the other disciple also went in …. and he saw and believed. (Jn 20:8).
In this Easter account in John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene and Peter, as they peered into the empty tomb,
didn’t know what to make of it. The body of Jesus was gone. At this moment in Mary Magdalene’s life,
her heart is filled with emptiness. One can imagine what she was feeling as she thought the body of
Jesus had been stolen. The disciples weren’t anticipating the resurrection. This was not part of their
experience. As they pondered what they had seen — in the empty tomb — what were they supposed to
believe? The burial cloths were there, but the body was missing. There was an empty tomb.
Then the other disciple (John) also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and
believed. What made him assent to such faith? What was he able to see that the others were unable to
see? The _Scriptures do not reveal this, but for John, it was certainly a graced moment. The Risen Lord
had given him eyes to see beyond the present reality, allowing him to ascent to a new reality. Perhaps
John recalled the promise that Jesus had made to send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. But, “he saw and
What do you see as you peer into the empty tomb? This Easter question is one which each of us must
answer. We cannot ignore it, dismiss it, or run away from it. Why? Because it calls for a response from
each of us. Each of us will answer this question in our own unique way, regardless of whether it is
verbally expressed. How we live our lives as disciples reveals our answer.
The empty tomb, I believe, is a bold proclamation of Christ’s victory over sin and death. The empty
tomb is our sharing in the gift of redemption and salvation. Our lives are greatly diminished apart from
the cross of Jesus Christ. Pope Francis alluded to this when he wrote, “the memory of the cross could be
called the domain of Christian existence.” Outside this domain, we are unable to determine properly
how to live our lives as we ought.
The cross of Jesus Christ has little value for us without the Resurrection. In God’s giving away of his
Son, his only and deepest desire was and is to have a relationship with those to whom he called as his
own — each and every one of us. This is at the heart of the sacrament of baptism. Those catechumens
who will come into the church at the Easter Vigil will experience the fulfillment of God’s desire, at least
outwardly, and hopefully, they will respond inwardly as well.