John and Peter have set off for Our Lord's burial place. Peter wants to
run buy yet he doesn't want to call any attention to himself. He tries to
blend into the scenery; just a common citizen about after the Passover
ritual has ended.
John is much different for even though his eyes have not seen the Master,
his pure heart recognizes Truth. He is eager, spurred on by love. Yet, it
is this very love, flowing from God, which makes John able to walk with
Peter as they pass along the streets, recognizing that Peter is the head,
and in deference does he keep step with him out of sublime charity.
Their route is the same as the Magdalene's, except once upon the
hard-packed road leading to the garden, Peter speaks.
"Do you believe her?" he asks of John.
"Yes, Peter, I believe her."
"Yes?" John prompts.
"You are His Beloved one, John. You knew His heart as He knew yours,
while mine gets so cluttered, and confused. But I want to believe."
"Then Her knows already what is in your heart. Did He not often tell us,
when we sat at His feet and were taught by every word He uttered, that we
must always remain open to Him? Of course, He meant our hearts. Do not be
troubled. He will help us."
"Yes, He said 'I am with you,' and I do feel it here…." Peter taps his
chest. "But… O! How I have failed Him."
"As we all have, Peter. Each of us. Only His Blessed Mother is without
blame. Come, let us hurry. There is the gate."
John moves forward now, his love no longer able to be restrained. He runs,
and Peter, who is of shorter stature and more years, tries to keep up but
is a good 100 feet behind at his best.
The scene of the tranquil garden seems to me unchanged as I follow with
John. He rounds the rock outcropping and pauses to look down. There are
the perfumes, oils, spices, herbs that the Magdalene had worked so hard to
prepare. He glances up. I follow his gaze. There is no one present that
I can see. The Roman guards have all gone, to make up whatever story will
satisfy their commander. I wonder where the other Marys have gone, and
immediately am given to understand that having received, at length,
permission from the lone Roman guard, they approached the tomb, satisfied
of its emptiness, crying, as was the Magdalene, they took the side path she
had taken, searching for their stalwart companion. I am given to
understand that by now they have returned to the house of the Last Supper
and have learned the rest of the Magdalene's account of her encounter with
the Risen Lord.
John looks back and Peter has closed the gap between them.
"Come quickly, there is no one about. But it is as she said, the stone
has been rolled away."
Peter nods and keeps moving, but John, drawn as a magnet, hurries forward
to the tomb's entrance. He places his right hand on the cold stone wall
and pauses. In that instant he sees before him Our Lord's full Passion and
Death. He sees again the mournful placement of the disfigured body in this
tomb and the effort of Joseph, Nicodemus, and himself to lever the stone
slab into place.
Then with tentative footsteps he goes in, passing what appears to me to be
a very small outer room, and then through a low archway into the interior
chamber, or actual tomb where he had helped to place our Dear Lord's Most
At the moment when he crosses the threshold from the outside world into
the sepulcher, I become aware, as does John, of a wonderful illumination
which permeates the interior chamber. This light of unearthly quality is
also a living, moving light which blends gold and silver, but also the
shimmering colors of sunrise. I am also aware at the same time that the
entire tomb has a fragrance, which is breathtakingly beautiful. Not
flowery. More, I seem to understand, the scent of purest incense. Not
man-made incense, but heavenly incense which is constantly given in praise
to the Trinity by all the angels, and now that Heaven has been opened, by
all the saints as well.