• April 6, 2018

An Empty Tomb...A New Hope

But Mary stood weeping out­side the tomb, and as she wept, she stooped to look into the tomb...

Mary stands at the tomb and weeps. She is the woman who has expe­ri­enced the kind­ness of the Lord, clung to it in order to be rid of her sin; and love brought it about that she was rid of it… Few, per­haps, have com­pre­hended the kind­ness of the Lord to such a degree: the great­ness of his redeeming power, the bright­ness of his uni­fying love. But it is still more the mag­nif­i­cence of his human reality, as opposed to that of his divinity, that she senses. Otherwise she would have grasped that this mag­nif­i­cence… Her tears are simul­ta­ne­ously tears of sorrow and tears of grat­i­tude…

Mary weeps more for the Lord than for her­self. Her tears guide her glance toward the tomb. It is a weeping that remains in the Lord, that thus, unknow­ingly, calls for grace…Therefore Mary looks into the empty grave. She turns her glance toward the place of the Lord, but that place is empty. To it should also be. That is what cor­rect belief requires. Mary has trust, and pours it into the incom­pre­hen­sible empti­ness… Behind her, she has redemp­tion from her sins and the expe­ri­ence of the Cross; in front of her, she has only the empti­ness of the tomb, she uncon­sciously ren­ders her­self capable of taking on eternal life. Through the fact that she seeks the Lord there where he no longer is, she becomes capable of the ever-greater, the more-than-human, the divine….

As long as I exist, as long as my self occu­pies space, res­ur­rec­tion is not pos­sible. As long as the self fills up the empti­ness of space, the empti­ness in which res­ur­rec­tion occurs is not pre­sent. As long as I fill up empty space with my look, my being, my hope, my “good works”, res­ur­rec­tion is not pos­sible. Resurrection is the unhoped-for as such. We are not redeemed in order to look back and receive the Lord into our­selves, but rather, so that the Lord, from beyond, might look back at us and we vanish into him. We are no longer the ones that we were: in com­par­ison with what we now are, what we had been is nothing but an empty tomb. We are no longer what we were, we are a part of the mis­sion of the Lord…

Who wants to look into an empty tomb? Who wants to make penance? All that is point­less, dry and empty – because in it, one every­where runs up against the liv­ing­ness of the Lord, which one does not see, does not under­stand, does not grasp, does not feel. And nev­er­the­less: as soon as all prayer, all devo­tion and pen­i­tence , is taken into the empty tomb, it becomes living, because there, al last, room exists for what I am not and what I do not see: the empti­ness beyond myself, at whose edge I stand, toward which I stoop, into which I look. Stand there like that: then every­thing else becomes super­fluous. That is the life of Christians : to the others, a standing at the edge of empti­ness, a wasted life. To us, the only meaning.

 Adrienne von Speyr, in The Birth of the Church: Meditations on John 18-21

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