Bishop Alan reflects on the first Easter morning
The Bishop of East Anglia, the Rt Rev Alan Hopes, reflects on two marvellous encounters on the very first Easter morning.
‘He is not here; he has risen!’
These are the words of the Angel to Mary of Magdala, that first Easter morning. They are the words that we will hear at the great Mass of the Easter Vigil, the climax of the Easter liturgy.
That marvellous encounter, of Mary with the Angel, is followed by something more wonderful still: Mary sees Jesus Himself.
In his Gospel, St John the Evangelist records the words actually spoken by Mary in this extraordinary moment. Mary exclaims, ‘I have seen the Lord!’
It is no co-incidence that Mary’s words, full of breathless love, echo the phrase that John himself had used at the beginning of his Gospel: ‘And the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us… and we have seen His glory.’
This is the vision of Easter. Mary’s vision, and John’s, is the vision of every Christian. It is your vision, and mine: we have seen His glory! We have seen the Lord!
After our journey through the desert of Lent, and through the deep sorrow of the Passion, the vision of the Risen Lord is one of life-changing joy.
For truly this is for us – as it was for Mary, and for John – an encounter which changes our lives. It is an encounter with the One who allows us to experience all the fullness of God’s goodness and truth, with the One who sets us free, heals us, and restores our dignity. This explains the depth of feeling in Mary’s words. Jesus after all was the One who enabled her to be reborn, who gave her a new future, a life of goodness and complete fulfilment. He is risen!
In one of his sermons as Bishop of Hippo, St Augustine says to the people of his diocese, ‘the resurrection of the Lord is our hope!’ That is as true for each one of us and for our diocese today, as it was on that first Easter morning, for Mary and for John. The resurrection of the Lord is our hope – and it is a hope that will never deceive us.
In our own, troubled times – when political leaders seem helpless in the face of division and uncertainty – how clear it is, once again, that there is only the One in whom we can place absolute trust!
Let us enter then into that Easter joy of Mary. Let us listen again to the message of the angel, and make it our own:
‘There is no need to be afraid… He is risen!’
And then let us make that message known once again in our families, in our communities and in our world today.
With the assurance of my prayers for a truly joyful and hope-filled Easter,
Devotedly in Christ,