Initially, the resurrection didn’t make a big splash. It was not some spectacular event that exploded into the world as the highlight on the evening news. It had the same dynamics as the incarnation itself: After he rose from the dead, Jesus was seen by some, but not by others; understood by some, but not by others. Some got his meaning, and it changed their lives, others were indifferent to him, and still others understood what had happened, hardened their hearts against it, and tried to destroy its truth.
Notice how these parallels, almost perfectly, what happened at the birth of Jesus: The baby was real, not a ghost, but he was seen by some, but not by others and the event was understood by some but not by others. Some got its meaning, and it changed their lives, others were indifferent and their lives went on as before, while still others (like Herod) sensed its meaning but hardened their hearts against it and tried to destroy the child.
Why the difference? What makes some see the resurrection while others do not? What lets some understand the mystery and embrace it, while others are left in indifference or hatred?
The 12thC theologian, Hugo of St. Victor used to say: Love is the eye! When we look at anything through the eyes of love, we see correctly, understand, and properly appropriate its mystery. The reverse is also true. When we look at anything through eyes that are jaded, cynical, jealous, or bitter, we will not see correctly, will not understand, and will not properly appropriate its mystery.
We see this in how the Gospel of John describes the events of Easter Sunday. Jesus has risen, but first of all, only the person who is driven by love, Mary Magdala, goes out in search of him. The others remain as they are, locked inside their own worlds. But love seeks out its beloved and Mary Magdala goes out, spices in hand, wanting at least to embalm his dead body. She finds his grave empty and runs back to Peter and the beloved disciple and tells them the tomb is empty. The two race off together, towards the tomb, but the disciple whom Jesus loved out-runs Peter and gets to the tomb first, but he doesn’t enter, he waits for Peter (authority) to go in first.
Peter enters the empty tomb, sees the linens that had covered the body of Jesus, but does not understand. Then the beloved disciple, love, enters. He sees and he does understand. Love grasps the mystery. Love is the eye. It is what lets us see and understand the resurrection.
Like the pebble falling into a still pond, so to does the resurrection of Jesus effect its works.