MONDAY MEDITATION: He Couldn’t Help Himself (October 23)

As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus. — John 20:14

If I had to choose a favorite Gospel right now, it would be John. That’s because it is, frankly, quite weird compared to the other ones. In your free time why not read either Matthew/Mark/Luke, then read John. Many things will strike you and force you to ask questions. In his Resurrection account, for instance, one comes to mind: Why did Jesus appear to Mary Magdalene? She had already gone to the tomb and he wasn’t there. She told the disciples and a couple of them ran to the tomb to verify it; Jesus still wasn’t there. It was only after the men left that he appeared to Mary. He didn’t need to. You could take out this appearance to Mary and the Resurrection narrative would continue nicely; it’s not needed–indeed, verse 19 flows better after verse 10. So, why did Jesus make a point of appearing to her?

My guess is that Jesus, true to form, simply couldn’t help himself. Here was a deeply grieving woman. Her heart broken, her hopes shattered. She couldn’t leave the tomb; grief and pain crucified her there. So, Jesus couldn’t help himself.

If there’s one link that binds all four Gospels together it’s that Jesus was constantly “moved by compassion.” His plans and activities were always interrupted by human pain. He’d walk miles, regardless of fatigue, to be with those crying. And even though he hadn’t planned on making an unplanned Resurrection appearance to Mary, he changed everything to be with her.

That’s just who Jesus was, and still is.