I've been trying to update the operating system on my phone the last several days. I'm not really sure why, but Instead of getting a successful update and install, I've been seeing a lot of that spinning wheel thingy that anyone with an electronic device has come to know and love. (Fun fact: it's called a "throbber.") The spinning wheel means, of course, that something inside your machines is processing. You're going to get there. But whatever you're doing takes time. Hang in there, the spinning wheel seems to say. The job you're trying to do is moving along...it just hasn't reached total completion just yet.
When I think of those women who appeared at the tomb to anoint Jesus' body on Easter morning, women who left the tomb in amazement and fear, I think of that spinning wheel. If it takes a while to fully process an unexpected and traumatic death, imagine the time it would have taken to process a resurrection! These women had barely had time to get used to the notion that their Lord was dead and buried. Anointing his body would have helped them more adequately cope with his sudden and violent death. This was something they could do...and do together. So when they find a heavenly messenger seated in the place they had expected to see Jesus, they were amazed, as we would expect. Tasked with telling Jesus' disciples that he was risen and had gone ahead of them to Galilee where they would see him (just as he said!), they are stunned. St. Mark describes their reaction by saying they were seized with "trembling," and "overcome with emotion" (16:8). And though we may hear the soundtrack swell and imagine that people who hear angel announcements immediately set off to do as they are bid to do, THESE women are afraid and "say nothing to anyone." Though it doesn't say this anywhere in the sacred text, I think one issue was that they needed time to process....to take everything in.
Easter is a time of joy and great celebration for followers of Jesus. Christ has won the victory over Death. The sting of death is gone....forever! And yet, today will be a day when many might still, for one reason or another, need to process that message a bit. For them, Easter joy might sound a little quieter. There is no right way or wrong way to leave an empty tomb. Today we simply look to the Lord of life with grateful hearts that the tomb is empty! Whether you are still processing...or inclined to let loose with a loud "Alleluia!"...let's all give thanks to God today for the gift of life which is ours in the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!