Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
The Gospels faithfully record the unexpectedness -- indeed, the astonishment -- of Jesus' resurrection. If his disciples heard the Master's remarks about being raised up again, they certainly did not recall them in the hours following his crucifixion. There was no doubt about his death and no reason to believe his story was anything but over, finished, kaput!
Had the evangelists wanted to portray the men and women who followed Jesus as wise, devout and faithful disciples, attentive to his every word and confident of his victory, they could have fudged the story just a bit. They would not have recorded the dumbfounded confusion of Peter the spokesman and leader; or the inconsolable grief of the pious Mary Magdalene.
Had they done so they would have cheated the Church of its greatest treasure, a glimpse into the impenetrable depths of the Mystery. They would have suggested that Jesus' resurrection was transparently obvious to anyone with common sense.
It was not. Nor will it ever be. With that understanding we can have compassion for our failure to "get it." Nobody really gets it; and the Gospel continually slaps against our incomprehension.
Saint Paul discovered that in his confrontation with the Corinthians: I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were unable to take it. Indeed, you are still not able...
More pointedly the Author of Hebrews wrote,
About this we have much to say, and it is difficult to explain, for you have become sluggish in hearing. Although you should be teachers by this time, you need to have someone teach you again the basic elements of the utterances of God. You need milk, [and] not solid food. Everyone who lives on milk lacks experience of the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties are trained by practice to discern good and evil.
It is odd that both authors imply you should understand by now. Saint Paul added to his complaint,
"...you are still of the flesh. While there is jealousy and rivalry among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving in an ordinary human way?"
The Corinthians had heard the Gospel; they had rejoiced in hearing it, but they were still quarreling; each one seemed to think he owned the Good News and everyone should agree with him. Their lack of communion proved they were "still of the flesh." They didn't understand what Hebrews calls, "the basic elements of the utterances of God."
All of us, it seems, have some insight into the gospel; anyone can see one facet of it clearly. Some philosophers have regarded Jesus as a great teacher, like Socrates or Laozi, because they agreed with some of his teachings. But "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing," and we are often owned by those little things we think we own. Our insight is too limited, too narrow to be of much use. With so little wisdom we're more likely to quarrel with one another than rejoice in the Resurrection of Jesus.
We may be capable right now of drinking only the milk of the gospel. But, in God's own time, and by God's patience, we will learn to consume the meat of the Gospel, a lesson that will surely cost much sacrifice and require considerable courage.
Today we hurry with the women to tell Peter and John, "He has been raised from the dead." We'll ask of them what the women probably asked, "What does it mean?" And we'll realize they don't know either.