Gospel: John 20:1-18.

I’ve skipped over a lot of important parts of Holy Week here, going straight to Sunday. In sense, though, this is the end and the beginning of the whole story: the Resurrection is the final event which (is taken to) prove the status of Jesus as the Christ, and it’s the launch pad from which the Christian story will take off. It is the end of the Gospels and the start of Acts; the last part of the good news and starting point for action.

In John’s telling, it is Mary Magdalene who is first to realise the significance of the event. When she does, she goes and tells the others about it. For many people considering Christianity today, especially although not only from the outside, this might represent one of the most problematic aspects of it: the demand it makes that the believer tell others, share the good news, try to convince and to convert. There are, of course, better and worse ways of doing this – but if my Facebook and my Twitter feed are anything to go by, plenty of people are encountering Christians today who are irritating or worse. These complaints don’t only come up around Easter, but the urgency which the season lends to the message seems to make it more common.

Mary, of course, didn’t go to strangers, which probably helped. She “went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’.”

From today’s Doyleist, outside-the-story, perspective, this is pretty flimsy evidence. Some writer says that someone said that she saw someone who was apparently dead two days before. If we take the story on its own terms, though, and look at the Watsonian perspective, we can see why the disciples are convinced: someone they know well reports to them something strange but positive about someone whom they knew and trusted, and who had shown himself capable of many weird things. Perhaps it’s easier, too, to understand Thomas, who demands proof for himself.

And what can I say? Only really this, that although I can enter into the story in this imaginative way, and am aware that it has a certain mythic power, I do not find resonance with it.


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