Back when I was in college, I wrote a short play that centered on a handful of the Apostles in the Upper Room with Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Mark the Evangelist. The play takes place after Jesus died on Good Friday, but before he rose from the grave on Sunday. Everyone copes with the fact that they lost Jesus in such a cruel, brutal manner. And as far as most of them knew, he’s not coming back anytime soon. However, we already know that Jesus will rise from the grave.
There’s a wonderful Church tradition that I learned about from Diana Von Glahn’s The Faithful Traveler. In this show, Ms. Von Glahn made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and filmed the various places she saw while she was there. One of places she showed is a small chapel that honors an ancient Church tradition: the idea that the resurrected Jesus appeared to his mother before anyone else. There is no evidence of this in Scriptures, but when you think about it, it makes sense. If Mary was with the other disciples, why didn’t she go with Mary Magdalene and the other women? The answer could be that she already knew. The theory is backed by Saint John Paul II, so you don’t have to just take my word for it.
I decided to include this little tradition in my play by having Jesus appear silently in the Upper Room to greet his mother. The two of them don’t exchange any words. Instead, it’s all gestures and pantomime. Mama Mary greets her Son with joy and tears. There are many questions, but not much time for answers. Then Jesus walks over to Mary Magdalene, places a dream in her mind, and vanishes.
Suddenly, everyone feels the ground shaking slightly and Mary Magdalene wakes up in a fright. She grabs some things in a rush, causing Peter to wake up. At this point, Mary (mother of Jesus) is pretending to be asleep. Mary Magdalene tells Peter to take care of everyone while she goes with her friends to the tomb. It’s not long until Mary Magdalene returns with news of the tomb being empty. Things get chaotic, since the empty tomb shocks everyone, but by the end of the play, even though Jesus doesn’t appear again, everyone realizes the truth: He is Risen.
The victory shown in the Resurrection is that no matter how bleak and hopeless things may seem, there is always a point where things turn around for the better. It may not happen right away, but trust me when I say that Christ will lead you out of the dark. If you are in some kind of dark place or going through a storm, He will be there to walk you through it.
No matter how many times we fail or struggle, the Glorious Mystery of the Resurrection compels us to believe in Christ and follow Him to victory. It won’t mean that life will be easy, but as Paul said in Philippians: “I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12-13)
Have you ever asked God to help you cope with grief? Why or why not?
How has God turned things around in your life?
Offer this mystery for something you are grieving over or for someone you know who has suffered a great loss.