Jn 20:1a and 2–8
Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have laid him.”
Peter then set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter.
Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too, saw the linen cloths lying flat. The napkin, which had been around his head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed.
This reading does not seem to be in line with the spirit of the season. We still wallow in the joy of the Incarnation but now we have to go fast forward to the Holy Week scene. Perhaps this out-of-place Gospel is not that off center at all. For the wood of the crib is also the wood of the cross. The baby born in the manger during the first Christmas was really born to die. That Christmas and the Holy Week are intimately connected and shed meaning to one another in ways that otherwise will be overlooked if we treat these two great feasts of our church separately and exclusively. This reading reminds us that joy and pain, triumph and loss, life and death lose the force of their meanings if they are separated from one another.
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