I’m thinking about the question Jesus asked of those who came to arrest Him – “who are you looking for?” and the answer they gave is, “Jesus of Nazareth”, though they were looking for Him for all the wrong reasons. We are looking for Jesus. The whole of humanity and all of creation has been searching for Jesus down through the ages. This is the core purpose of our lives as Catholic Christians and St. John of the Cross compares this searching for Christ to the exploration of a mine that contains precious minerals. We enter into the cave of the mine and, when we reach a certain point, thinking that this is the end we discover a new turning that takes us down a new channel and the discovery of new riches goes on infinitely. In this world we are never finished discovering who Jesus is. As St. Paul says, now we see in a glass dimly, now our knowledge is imperfect but then in eternity we shall know as fully as we are known.”
The women in the Gospel show us what the searching is like. They return to the place where they last saw Jesus, they return to the tomb expecting things to be the same as they were yesterday but nothing is the same. Jesus has moved from where He was and in order to find Him, they too have to move in search of Him and finding Him they discover that He has changed. He is the same person but also somehow different to the extent that He is unrecognizable. Their eyes and their understanding need to be opened to a fuller and deeper knowledge of who Jesus is. Not just knowledge of or about Him but a deeper experience of who He is. That knowledge of the heart that is spoken of in Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.” A heart to know the Lord.
The risen Jesus is who He is. It is we who need to keep searching and discovering. And the tomb is our starting point. As it was for the first Christians evidence that Christ is risen, the tomb is for us the cave, the mine in which our exploration begins. It is the place where we lay all our loves who have died; it is the place of loss and failure, the place where our tears are shed, the place in which our life is closed in, the place in which we ourselves have died to some extent and we are confronted by our own emptiness. In all of these experiences we are searching for the living Jesus and, while the tomb may be our starting point, we have to move on from it in order to find Him. When we encounter Him, we discover that He is much more than we could ever have imagined. And through this encounter with Him we emerge changed, transformed, converted.
“I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3)