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Mary s Perplexity at the Empty Tomb.

Mary s Perplexity at the Empty Tomb.

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Published by glennpease

UPPER CANADA TRACT SOCIETY


And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them,
Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.
S. JOHN xx. 13.

UPPER CANADA TRACT SOCIETY


And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them,
Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.
S. JOHN xx. 13.

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Published by: glennpease on May 17, 2013
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Mary s Perplexity at the Empty Tomb.UPPER CAADA TRACT SOCIETYAnd they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them,Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.S. JOH xx. 13.I. "T?IRST, Mary Magdalene reaches the sepulchre and finds theJi stone rolled away. She does not look within : she sees noangel : she returns to the city by some other and shorter path than thatalong which her companions were advancing. She returns to share heranxieties with S. Peter and with S. John. And then the other womenreach the sepulchre. They, too, find the stone rolled away. UnlikeMary they enter the sepulchre, and they are bidden by an angel,whom they find there, to return to Jerusalem and to inform S. Peterand the disciples that Christ had risen. Meanwhile Mary Magdaleneis on her way back to the sepulchre to pay it a second visit, this timein company with S. Peter and S. John. These disciples examine thetomb and return to the city, leaving Mary alone before the emptygrave. There she stands, as the lesson which has just been read tous describes her : there she stands weeping and solitary in the bitterness of her grief. This time she stoops down and looks in and seesthe traces of the Body of Jesus Christ. And then, almost listlesslyand without intending it, she enters into conversation with theangels. Jesus is the one thought that fills her soul, and when she isasked why she weeps she answers, Because they have taken awaymy Lord out of the sepulchre, and I know not where they have laidHim/Mary Magdalene, then, during the first hours of Easter Day mustnot be merged in the company of devout women who visited thetomb of Jesus Christ. Her relation to the Resurrection is all herown : it is unique. She, the frail woman, she, the crushed, brokenhearted penitent, makes the first visit to our Saviour s tomb. Toher He appears alive before He appears either to S. Peter or to S. John,and the secret of this, her high distinction among the first andgreatest servants of Christ, is her love. She loved much. This hadbeen the reason of old for her full and free forgiveness. She lovedmuch . this was the motive power which associates her more thanany human being with Christ s Resurrection-glory. And surely thereis reason in this ; for what is rightly regulated love but moral powerof the highest order ? As S. Paul puts it, * The love of Christ con-straineth us. Few men have ever explored the heights and depthsof our human nature more thoroughly than the great Augustine.And S. Augustine has a saying which shows how highly lie rated the
 
20OUTLIES O THE GOSPELpractical power of love. Only love, he said, * and then thou mayestdo what thou wilt.Love is indeed the very muscle and fibre of moral force. If thecondition of mankind at large is bettered, this is effected by men wholove their fellow-men. If goodness is embodied in life and character,this is by those who begin by seeing, however imperfectly, the beautyof goodness, and are enamoured of it before they try to make it theiiown. If truth is sought and found amid and across difficulties whichhave seemed insuperable, this is by intellects to which truth has presented itself as an object in itself so beautiful as to win the love of their hearts. And if Mary rose in the dark night to visit the graveof her slain Master, and to pay Him such honours as her povertycould yield, this was because her soul was on fire with the moralpower of a strong and pure affection, which was to be rewardedpresently by the attainment of its object.II. Mary Magdalene waiting before the empty tomb of Jesus reappears in each generation of Christians. It is not hard, at least forsome of us, to recognise her among ourselves. She is the type of those souls which have a genuine love of religion, but which, fromwhatever cause, and in various ways, are for a time at any rate disappointed in it. And religious disappointment is hard to bear,hard in proportion to the genuineness and sincerity of a man s character, because it is rightly felt that so much is in peril while thisdisappointment lasts ; for religion invites a larger stake, a moreruinous investment, so to put it, of thought and feeling than anyother subject, in proportion to its transcendent importance ; andwhen those who have given up much, if not all else, that they maywin this, think that they have missed what they hoped to have,when those who, like the merchant in the parable, have sold their allto buy the pearl of great price, suppose, though it be, indeed, without reason and only for a while, that what they have purchased is aflint, the recoil of baffled hope is even terrible. Take the not uncommon case of a person who, for some years, for whatever reason,has paid scant attention to religious matters. He may not havebroken God s law in any flagrant way : he may not have been theprodigal son of the parable : he may only have been an eager man of business, or an accomplished man of letters, or a great favourite insociety, or a dreamer of unpractical but absorbing dreams. But,
 
anyhow, he has lost sight of God. God has had, I do not say something less than His true place in the man s thought, but scarcely anyplace at all. Still he brings something of what he learnt from hismother, something of his early prayers, something of his Bible,something, it may be, of the happiness and glow of a confirmation,of a first communion ; and as he knows that the years are passing21EASTER DAYquickly, and that he must soon be in his grave, he trusts himself totne guidance of these memories of the past : he sets out it is apainful, it is a creditable effort he sets out to visit the sepulchre of his early life as a Christian, within which he trusts to find again thesubstance of religious wellbeing the Body of Jesus. He sets outwith Mary Magdalene that he may renew his old homage to theperson of his Lord, and, like Mary, perchance he finds that themouth of the sepulchre is now wide open and that the Body of Jesusis gone. He recollects what he used to think about sacred subjects,but somehow his old thoughts will not recur to him. He cannotrecognise the accustomed haunts of his spirit. The old language of thirty years ago is no longer to him what it was. There is something in the air, it seems, which has changed the aspect of what wasonce for him so full of grace and life, and he gazes on it as on theshell of an extinct creature as on the ruined castle of a noble race.He opens his Bible, but somehow it is interesting to him only asliterature. It is no more to him than Shakespeare, or some otherwork of human genius. It does not speak to his undying spirit : forhim the Body of Jesus is not there. He tries to pray, and prayer tohim is only like poetry an exercise which warms the soul, but whichis not felt to be anything like actual converse with an unseen person : the Body of Jesus is not there. He will do his best. He evenapproaches the Holy Communion, but here again he finds only asymbolical ceremony which recalls the dead past. There is no senseof contact with the living Lord of life. The Body of Jesus, so far ashis experience goes he knows nothing of the absolute reality theBody of Jesus is not even there. Everywhere he sees traces of theold presence which haunts his memory. He counts up the napkinsand the linen clothes, he measures the chamber in which, as hismemory reports, his Lord had lain ; but now there are voices aboutthat tell him how much has changed since those days of which he isthinking. They say that much that then kept out light and air hasbeen rolled away, that many a scheme for setting a watch over thegrave of some crucified truth has been defeated, that many a truth,

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