domenica 1 aprile 2018

«Praecucurrit citius Petro»

Running is what strikes more in today’s gospel. Mary Magdalene ran, full of anguish, since she had found the tomb open and empty. Her first thought—her only thought—was that someone might have taken away the body of Jesus. Where was he now? So she ran and went to the apostles—Peter and John—to inform them of the incident. She did not tell them what she had seen—the empty tomb—but her interpretation of what she had seen—the only interpretation, in her opinion, plausible: “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”

The gospel does not tell us what was the reaction of the apostles. It only says that they went out and came to the tomb. They also ran. Evidently, they were anxious to see with their own eyes what had happened. Not that they did not trust the Magdalene; but who knows what she had really seen… Poor Mary! She was so badly shaken by Jesus’ death! Better to check personally.

Both Peter and John ran; but John—“the disciple whom Jesus loved”—who was younger than Peter, ran faster than him (praecucurrit citius Petro) and arrived at the tomb first. He could take advantage of the opportunity and enter the tomb immediately; but he was respectful of hierarchies, and waited for Peter, who was the boss. He limited himself to bend down and see what there was inside the tomb.

When Peter arrived, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths. What did he think? We do not know. We instead know what experienced John, once he entered the tomb after Peter and saw the scene: “He saw and believed.” He did not see Jesus; he just saw the cloths, like Peter. But it was sufficient for him to believe. Maybe he had run not only to check the accuracy of Mary’s information, but because in his heart he cherished the hope of the unthinkable. Now, in front of the empty tomb and the cloths lying there, he had the evidence that the unthinkable had really happened. 

John ends his report with an enigmatic observation: “They did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” They, who? To whom is John referring in his statement? At first sight, it would seem to Peter and himself. But, if he believed, it means that he had understood the Scriptures. So, it is more probable that he is referring to Peter and the Magdalene. He felt that Jesus had to rise from the dead, and so hoped that this might happen. That is why he ran.

If only we too could run like him, with the same expectation, the same hope, the same faith, the same love!