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Another Day of Sorrow

The headlines in the Buffalo Courier said it all: Another Day of Sorrow. It was in essence the true beginning of the 20th century. A violent act. The rise of a celebrated vice president to ultimate power. William McKinley, the last of the Civil War veterans to be elected president, was dead; succumbing to the gunshot wounds he received from an anarchist while visiting Buffalo, NY. Theodore Roosevelt had heard the news while hiking near Lake Champlain. His first reaction was that of the entire country. “I am so inexpressibly shocked and horrified that I cannot say anything.”

Another day of sorrow. It’s the first day of the week. The sky is still darkened as the sun has not yet ascended from the horizon. Near the end of John’s gospel, Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb. First the angels ask her:

“Woman, why are you weeping?”

John 20.13a

Then, mere moments later, she hears the question posed once again:

“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

John 20.15a

Earlier she came to the tomb and found it empty. She informs Peter and John, and they too run and discover the same. Their Lord was gone. And yet, after the others have seen the factual evidence and leave, Mary, and Mary alone remains outside the tomb. Weeping. Perhaps she remembers the words of Jesus regarding His return. Perhaps she understands them even less after His death. And yet, she continues to hope. And her heart would not let her leave.

“Woman, why are you weeping?”

“They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

Tears appear often in the gospels: the sinful woman at the feet of Jesus (Luke 7.37-38), Martha and Mary at the death of their brother Lazarus (John 11.33), and even Jesus Himself on various occasions (John 11.35; Luke 19.41-44). Behind our tears is someone. A dying parent. A hurt child. A lost love. Even ourselves. It’s as Dickens wrote:

"Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts."

Charles Dickens, “Great Expectations”

Tears can be a gift. They soften our hardness. They crumble our illusions of selfreliance. They unleash our humanity. Our need for our God. They prepare our hearts to receive the gospel call. To receive mercy. Forgiveness.

So many people are seeking answers. Seeking comfort. Seeking happiness. Seeking life. Searching for something or someone to fill the emptiness and void. Restless hearts. Yes, many are weeping. But perhaps the bigger question is the one posed to Mary: “Whom are you seeking?” Do we, like the psalmist, cry out to the One who hears us? To the One who can truly provide everlasting comfort and peace?

I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.

Psalm 57.2

Our Lord’s second question on the heels of the first helped move her past the tears. Past the darkness of her sorrow. Look! See! He is not dead! He is risen!

“I have seen the Lord!”

John 20.18

Do you see? Do not all our sorrows, desperations, and sense of loss fade into nothingness at the realization of our risen Savior? He has conquered death. He has crushed the serpent’s head. He is victorious! Our salvation is indeed nearer to us now than when we first believed (Romans 13.11).

Another day of sorrow? It was in essence the true beginning. A day of triumph. The rise of the celebrated Son of Man. On that morning, sorrow vanished away to victory. You and I no longer need to weep. Mary’s love, search and tears are ours too. As is her joyous declaration:

“I have seen the Lord!”