The day was about to end, and in the dusk, the lifeless cadaver was taken down from the cross and wrapped in a sheet. In that moment, Christian piety allowed the dead body to lie on his mother’s lap, almost like a powerless child returned to the motherly womb to be warmed, in that gesture of Mary symbolising the Church which gathers in its womb, lifeless humanity in the hour of death. As to the rest, most probably after fainting and regaining her senses, Mary allowed herself to be taken away from the crucifixion site. And certainly, for her, the mother, the son was more than a cadaver: that flesh for her was doubly adorable, and which continued to instill pain in her, as if to prolong the passion, for the benefit of her mystical son – and?? humanity.
With pain and love, along the trail of the crucifixion, she contemplated deep inside with tears, those lifeless eyes, that mouth that had pronounced great words, and those wounds from which the most precious blood had oozed.
In the twilight, the quiet disciple, Nicodemus had come — bringing about a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloe to spread on the skin, after which the body was wrapped in strips of cloth. So arranged, the cadaver was brought to a garden close by, at which Joseph of Arimathea had excavated a tomb in the rocks according to the custom, and there the meek Master was brought by a small handful of women. Seated in front of the sepulcher, they remained watching with their hearts in the tomb, broken in painful love, and Mary the Virgin Mother, the Desolate, amidst her weeping friends, continued alone, the Passion of her son.
Igino Giordani, Jesus of Nazareth, SEI ed., Turin, 1950, pp.376-378.
Mary of Magdala who had not forgotten Jesus, and for love, fearing no one, ran to the sepulcher. She looked inside and discovered with dismay that the cell was empty. Her heart was racing when she ran out in search of Peter and John, not knowing what had happened.
She didn’t know that in the night, a sharp quake shook the earth, bringing the guards to their feet. They were so terrified that they fainted when like a tongue of fire, an angel descended to remove the heavy stone with a slight touch, and climbing up on it, stayed there: his face flashed like lightning and his tunic shone like snow.
Meanwhile, the other women had left early in the morning to buy the necessary aroma to embalm bodies. They had started out when the sun had already risen, and wondered how they would move the tombstone. While they looked on dismayed, an Angel appeared:
“Fear not—he assured them – do not seek among the dead He who is alive. He has resurrected and is not here.” And he invited them to bring the news to Peter and the disciples – to the Church headed by Peter, and inform them that the Risen Christ would precede them in Galilee.
Still no one had seen the Risen Christ, the sight of whom would have explained the mystery. The Gospel doesn’t reveal it, but with St. Ignatius Loyola many pious souls of all times, retained that the first apparition was for the one who most deserved it and who was waiting: his Mother. No one witnessed this intimate scene and the mother’s joy, too great and intimate to reveal to the disciples.
Igino Giordani, Jesus of Nazareth, cit., p.379.