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Spiritual Reflection: 5th June 2012

Existential Emptiness – the door to the Resurrection



Fr. Cheriyan Menacherry CMI



There may be different causes for the deep disappointments, pains and sufferings. But there is something common: the feeling of hopelessness and existential emptiness. In the moment of absolute emptiness, one can feel God’s presence. Nobody is exempted from the existential darkness. The Atheists or the saints, all will be experiencing the painful ‘nothingness’.

Mary Magdalene hasted to the sepulchre of Jesus after two days of the burial of Jesus. She found it empty: “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb” (Jn 20,1). Even the leader of the Apostles had to experience the emptiness. Peter rushed to the grave, he did not find the Lord there: “Then Simon Peter came, . . and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.” (Jn 20:6-7).

For Mary Magdalene it was a terrible experience. The death of Jesus shattered her life. Now she cannot even find her Masters dead body in the tomb. But when the women “went in, they did not find the body” (Lk 24:3). What a moment of emptiness! “Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb. . . .” (Jn 20:11).

The irony is that the risen Lord was very near to her, still she did not recognize him: Mary “turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.” (Jn 20:14).

The empty tomb is not the foundation of Christian faith. The existential emptiness is also not the foundation but the door to faith. Helpless constant staring into one’s own existential emptiness; the desperate question ‘why’ ‘why’ will not help to germinate hope in one’s own heart. On the contrary one will be then only constantly hearing the echo of one’s own a kind of ‘sadistic’ laud and unending question ‘why’.

Better, ‘convert’! ‘Turn back’! One has to turn oneself to the soft and gentle voice of God. The sorrowful Mary Madeline turned her looked away from the empty grave as she heard the gentle call of the risen Lord: “Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher).” (Jn 20,16).

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