We reflect this Easter season on the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.
One way of praying that has been very fruitful for me is Ignatian contemplation, which is a way of praying with my imagination. I envision myself as being present inside a story from Scripture, participating in it as it unfolds. When I contemplate the Resurrection, there are so many different scenes and people that fill my mind. Jesus’ Resurrection remains the focus, of course, like a sun bursting and radiating light in all directions.
Who do I see myself as when I prayerfully relive the Resurrection? The Gospels offer me so many possibilities: I could be one of the disciples who encounter the Risen Lord; I could be an onlooker or one of the soldiers who stands watch in the dark of night and is struck by fear. I could be the angel who rolls away the stone and announces that Jesus is risen! I could be Mary Magdalene or one of the other women who goes to the tomb that early morning. Mary is full of sorrow; she is weeping and mourning. Yet, when she arrives, she finds that the tomb is empty. Then beyond all expectations she meets the Risen Jesus himself (though she at first mistakes him for the gardener). She departs in great joy and astonishment.
Today I identify with Simon Peter. He was often slow to understand, and he was far from perfect. Yet Jesus called him the “rock” because of his faith. Peter, in all his imperfections, gives me hope, because I too am an imperfect disciple. For all his failings and fallings, Peter always picked himself up and pushed forward in the mission Jesus gave him. His example inspires me to do the same.
When Peter hears the news that Jesus had risen, he runs to the empty tomb with the beloved disciple. The other disciple gets there first. Often enough I feel that I am like Peter, a disciple trailing behind, a disciple who can’t keep up. How frustrated I am with my slowness to act or love or understand! The beloved disciple stops to let Peter enter the tomb first. Peter leans down to peer into the dark and empty tomb, a tomb that held all his sorrow and despair, all his shattered hopes and dreams. What is in my empty tomb? What is in your empty tomb? What sorrows are in that darkness?
Yet the darkness of Jesus’ empty tomb is not the not the darkness of despair. It is the darkness that comes just before dawn, the darkness on the edge of a new day. From the darkness of this tomb bursts forth the Light of the World, our Savior. He brings hope that dispels all our darkness. Sorrows and troubles will always be a part of life. But our Resurrected Lord will be with us through it all, and that is the source of our hope.
Reflecting on your Resurrection, O Lord, help me focus on your light that pierces the darkness in my life. May I be your light that pierces the darkness of despair.