The Resurrection: The angel rolling away the stone from the sepulchre,
Watercolour by William Blake (1757-1827),
Painted in 1808,
Pen and ink and watercolour on paper
© Victoria & Albert Museum, London

The Resurrection: The angel rolling away the stone from the sepulchre,
Watercolour by William Blake (1757-1827),
Painted in 1808,
Pen and ink and watercolour on paper
© Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Gospel of 6 April 2021

Mary stayed outside near the tomb

John 20:11-18

Mary stayed outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, still weeping, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet. They said, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' 'They have taken my Lord away' she replied 'and I don't know where they have put him.' As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him. Jesus said, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?' Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.' Jesus said, 'Mary!' She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, 'Rabbuni!' – which means Master. Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' So Mary of Magdala went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had said these things to her.

Reflection on the Watercolour

Our watercolour on paper by William Blake takes us right inside the tomb of Christ. All the Gospel accounts, such as our Gospel reading today ('Mary stayed outside the tomb') tell of what happened outside the tomb and all the activity going on there. In fact, the paintings throughout art history that depict today's Gospel reading mostly show Mary meeting the angels looking from the outside in, or Mary meeting Jesus as the Gardener. But in our drawing William Blake is taking us right inside the tomb, at the very moment Jesus is rising from the dead. Angels are removing from the body of Jesus the linen cloth in which He was wrapped. 

A third angel is seen rolling away the stone from the sepulchre. The shape of this stone is interesting. It isn't the classically depicted round stone; no, it is rectangular. It almost looks like a tablet. Blake thus wanted to refer to the stone on which the Law was written, the tablets of Moses. By the angel removing the blocked the door, the artist conveyed that the Law now came to fulfilment… and the Law of Christ was fully alive. 

These same angels are the ones asking Mary why she is weeping. And then Jesus asks her the same question. But then our Gospel reading says: 'Jesus said, 'Mary!'  Jesus called Mary by her name. This is the day that Jesus also calls us by our name!… inviting us to respond and walk with Him. 

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