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"Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid." Mark 16.8

What were they afraid of? Well, they had just seen an angel for starters. Angels, as they appear in the Bible, are like polar bears in the wild. Not the cosy and cuddly characters of story-books and children's toys but fearsome and noble creatures who command our awe. But, more than that even, might it not have been the shock, the "dislocation of expectation" as they say in military parlance?

The grief-stricken women had gone to the garden tomb to anoint Jesus' body. Jesus' mother, Mary, was one of them. Had she brought the myrrh Jesus had been given by the Magi at his birth? Who knows but she may well have kept it for this very purpose. But then the stone rolling, the angel and the empty tomb. What to make of it...

And then had those baffling words of Jesus about his death and his rebuilding of "the temple" seeped into their consciousness as if to haunt or taunt them? What did it mean, where was he after all? It's easy for us all these centuries later, with the story of Easter 1 carefully polished and endlessly rehearsed to brush aside the women's jarringly flustered reaction and go straight (and impatiently) into celebration mode.

Maybe the occasion will mean more, if we linger a moment outside the tomb, gazing in at its emptiness, pondering the implications, allowing time for the momentousness promises of Jesus to flood our own consciousness. Before re-joining the party in celebration: Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.

Latha na Càisge sona dhuibh!



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