“11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.”
The soul has become empty. It has accepted sorrow and loss, and yet if we dare to look into this emptiness, the tomb, we discover that spirit has a message for us. “Why are you weeping?”
Sorrow and grief are natural, and can be powerful aids to releasing us from the past. But we can even attach ourselves to grief. Spirit will tell us not to weep, because greater understanding awaits us.
If we become overwhelmed by the sorrows of the world, we can no longer carry out our purpose. We have to find the middle way, accepting loss and pain, and prepare to walk forward.
We are always surprised by love. It may stand right in front of us, and we may not recognise it. But we recognise the voice of love. Our ears hear truth before our eyes perceive it. That is why when we develop our spiritual senses, hearing should come first. So often people want to develop clairvoyance so they can do readings on other people. We like to observe and judge others, when we should relate these observations and judgments to self. The royal road to opening our clairvoyance, which is a gift of Christ, is to listen to other souls. When we hear the voice of the soul, then we are able to perceive the truth within that soul.
We can learn more from this little passage. Mary Magdalene is the first to see the risen Christ. This is because she loved Christ and devoted herself to his service in humble, simple ways when he was in incarnation. Love first listens. In listening we have to become silent. Then, out of love and silence Christ appears. Since his first appearance to Mary Magdalene, it has become possible for every human being to perceive the risen Christ. It is the encounter with Christ that opens our spiritual eyes. We have seen the reality of spirit. After that we have moved from intellectual understanding into knowledge. We no longer have to rely on what others tell us, we have seen for ourselves.
The vision of Christ brings with it an imperative. We are shown our life task. For Mary Magdalene, it was a simple directive: communicate to the brothers, that Christ is risen. For all of us the vision of Christ brings the same directive. Our life’s purpose will then be to inform the brothers, that is, those who are connected to Christ, that Christ is a living reality, and that he manifests this reality within the world. We don’t have to change the world on our own, we need to share our experience with those who also have the Christ consciousness. As our experience of the consciousness of Christ deepens through the years and incarnations, so the world becomes lighter. We no longer have to find the way, because we have become The Way.
There are many paintings of this scene. Some are done by very famous artists, but I love this simple wood engraving by the twentieth century artist, David Jones. The eye is immediately drawn to the two pairs of hands. The hands of Mary Magadalene longing to touch the beloved, and the hands of the risen Christ forbidding the touch. Noli me tangere, “touch me not” says Christ.
The Mystery has been revealed, but there are so many more steps on the Way. On this day let us realise how close we are to the divine. Let us focus on allowing this divinity to be different, for this difference is individuality. On this day we can contemplate our own individuality. For we have come into this world with the great task of expressing just who we are.
The resurrection story tells me this: that a power was realised two thousand years ago. When the Master died, something happened on the inner planes which neither you nor I shall know by physical means. Then when the Master resurrected another power was released, and this spirit of Jesus has permeated this universe ever since, for two thousand years, even though you and I cannot see it.
There is available to us, therefore, what St Paul calls the resurrection power. If you and I want to share with him in that power then it is there for you to take, for you to accept and to participate thereof.
Either you want that resurrection life and then all your attention is focused upon it, or you can just stay where you are; live your life and forget about spirit. Don’t try the both at once, it won’t work.
Through the experience of being a minister for so many years and through my own inner experiences as a mystic, I’ll say this to you: if you go for the resurrection life, that is the life of a person who has the life of the risen Christ glowing out of them, then you are rich beyond comparison. You are so free that words cannot describe it and you are accepted in the sight of God.
Rev Mario Schoenmaker, Address, 1961