The witnesses to the Sacred Heart at the tomb and resurrection
Because of the on coming Sabbath, Jesus’ burial was hurried and they were unable to perform the proper ritual burial. The women go to perform the necessary rites after the Sabbath, the last honour. They do not foresee the problem of the stone. They ask ‘who is going to move the stone for us? (Mk 16:3) There is no answer, still they walk on in faith, just as the three wise men walked in faith to honour the Christ child. The stone can be seen as a symbol of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They carry on walking because they have seen the Heart opened and believe that the Sacred Heart will be opened for them at the resurrection. They do not know how. The angel has moved the stone and the tomb is now empty. The angel wants to show them there is now another place to see Our Lord. The Angel says, “ He is going before you to Galilee”(Mk16: 7) Galilee is a symbol of the church. Of course Our Lord could have moved the stone himself but by the angel doing so, Jesus wants to show us the need for us to play our part. The women were walking in darkness. Darkness is the symbol of faith. Faith is the vision of God in darkness or behind the veil.
The three Marys run back to give the news to the apostles. The apostles were not the first witnesses to the resurrection. It is these women who bring St. Peter and St. John back to their faithfulness and mission. The women had not seen our Lord but only the angel yet they believed. Mary Magdalene goes back to the tomb and sees Jesus but she doesn’t recognise him. “Were did you put my Lord?” Jn. 20:15 she asks, believing the body had been stolen. This failure to recognise Jesus seems odd when she knew Jesus very well. This can be explained by her as yet imperfect faith. When Jesus turns round and says “Mary” she recognises Him. Our Lord converts her heart and then she is able to recognise Him. In our life when we sin we ask, “where is Our Lord?” but when we seek him He comes. Jesus never leaves us but because of our lack of faith we fail to see Him. Faith must lead to conversion in the way we live our life.
Mary wants to touch Our Lord as she did before his death but she is forbidden to touch the glorified body of Christ. Compare this with Jesus’ command to St. Thomas to “put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side.” Jn. 20:27. The difference between the two being that St. Thomas had been ordained a priest at the Last Supper. For this reason the Eucharist is to be handled only by a priest. By ordering St. Thomas to touch His Sacred Heart, Jesus wants to show us and especially priests that devotion to the Sacred Heart is not an option but essential.
The spectrum of devotion to the Sacred Heart encompasses us all. We should meditate on how we can link our life to the Sacred Heart, listening to the Sacred Heart as St. John did, endeavouring to understand the Sacred Heart as the soldier did, and walking in faith as the women of the resurrection did.