Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
Today we celebrate the greatest feast of the Church year and yet, in the Gospel chosen by the Church there is no appearance of the Risen Christ and He is only mentioned insofar as His body, it seems, has been taken from the tomb. It is Mary of Magdala who ran to Peter and his companion and broke the news, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put Him!”…notice the “they” – who might they be?
Rather unusual isn’t it that on this solemn day of the Lord’s Resurrection, the Gospel revolves around these three individuals – Mary deeply grieving comes to the tomb while it was still dark and Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved, come when anxiously summoned by Mary – Mary, Peter and John – just these three. There is an urgency, a calamity, a stealing – she runs to them and they run back – they look, they examine, they notice the burial cloths rolled up neatly – but no body of the Lord – an empty tomb – what could they make of this?
St. John reports that the disciple who arrived ﬁrst, the beloved, “saw and believed.” Believed what? – one might ask because the very next verse states, “For they did not yet understand the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead.” A little later the Risen Jesus will appear to Mary who thinks He is the gardener and on the evening of the same day the Risen Jesus will appear to Peter and those gathered in the Upper Room – their confusion, grief, loss, a whole gamut of fearful, painful feelings will dissipate – and they will begin to understand “..that He had to rise from the dead.” But, ﬁrst their shock!
What does this Gospel hold for us who believe in the Resurrection yet have never seen the Lord? I believe the Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is calling us to center on the three – Mary, Peter, and the disciple Jesus loved. What can they say to us for our lives? What word of truth comes through them? As humans we can, I believe, in one way or another, identify with them – Jesus cured Mary of 7 devils and who of us does not have a devil or two – Peter a man of good will in a moment of fear deny Jesus and who of us
has not in some way, some action denied Him as our Lord – John and his brother James with their mother were a bit pushy in desiring to have seats next to Jesus in the kingdom and who of us have not tried to put ourselves ﬁrst, get the ﬁrst seat, the ﬁrst place, the best. And with all that, these three, with their unique histories, are people of the Resurrection and so are we!
We gather on this Solemnity of Solemnities because, by our Baptism, you/I are caught up in Jesus’ rising from the dead. Jesus raised up the lives of Mary, Peter, and John and He does so to us. We are raised up in faith so that we believe without seeing, raised up in hope although we do not live with crystal balls, raised up in charity so that we will extend ourselves to others – all this means living as men and women of the Risen Lord – living in extraordinary ways in our very ordinary lives because we are people of the Risen Christ.
In the second reading from the Letter to the Colossians, St. Paul shares truth from his own “raised up life” – a message that should ring in our ears, imprint itself in our hearts and ﬁll us with the joy that only the Lord gives: St. Paul proclaims, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3: 3) – it is worth repeating often “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – even to changing the pronoun to: “For I have died and my life is hidden with Christ in God!”