Acts 10:34, 37-43
Psalms 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
In keeping with His brief public life, there was no showy exit of Jesus from the tomb in which He was buried. From the beginning of His public life Jesus scorned doing anything just for show (recall the account of Jesus’ temptation in the dessert when He rebuffed the devil, refusing the temptation to do anything showy). The resurrection of Jesus, as much as it is the cornerstone of our faith, was accomplished without all the flashy and showy aspects that magicians everywhere revel in.
On this Sunday when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, all we are given to point to is what Mary Magdalen and two disciples had to point to – an empty tomb, with some linen burial cloths still there. It is no wonder that Mary Magdalen, who John’s gospel gives the privilege of being the first person to see the empty tomb (to witness to the Resurrection), concludes that Jesus’ body has been stolen. What little she knew had to be shared, and so Mary of Magdala runs to two disciples, who in turn run back to the tomb, with “the disciple who Jesus loved” winning the ‘race,’ but leaving the privilege of entering the tomb first to the ‘first’ among the disciples, Peter. Detectives might say that all we have on this glorious Easter Sunday is an empty tomb with cloths in it. But the gospel gives us something more, for it tells us that John, the beloved disciple who witnessed the entire crucifixion from the foot of the cross with Mary, Jesus’ mother, “saw and believed.” What did John believe in? The emptiness of the tomb? The burial cloths? No, John believed that all that Jesus had shared with them and so many others during His public ministry was true, for he remembered in a special way what was engraved on his heart, that God the Father, in spite of the horrendous crucifixion, would raise Jesus from the dead. While he did not know exactly how, John knew that Jesus’ death on the cross and burial was not the final chapter, and that what was promised to Jesus by God, His Father, would come true.
There was more drama surrounding the resuscitation of Lazarus, than the initial drama of finding the tomb empty. But Jesus’ resurrection is no resuscitation, for His resurrection from the dead displays the triumph over death and all things evil, “the Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal” (Sequence for Sunday). We share in Christ’s triumph, as St. Paul tells in his letter to the Colossians: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God…. For you have (will) died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with Him in glory.”
We are very much like John, the beloved disciple, who had nothing but an empty tomb, but who “believed.” We too have the empty tomb, and we do not know the mechanics of Christ’s resurrection, but we will also have the inspired Word of God proclaimed to us over the next several weeks of the Easter season which will outline the appearances of Jesus to His frightened disciples. We will also have the inspired word of Paul, and the apostles Peter and John, and the evangelist Luke (Acts), who will give witness to the Paschal mystery and proclaim the wonders of what it is we celebrate today. “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad,” “for the stone rejected (scourged, spit upon, and nailed to a cross) has become the cornerstone (of the Church), by the Lord this has been done; it is wonderful in our eyes” (responsorial psalm).
We rejoice today and always for what the Lord has done for us. Let us rejoice and be glad – through hardships and difficulties, through pandemics and plagues, through hurricanes and stormy winds – may we never forget what the Lord has done for us this day. This truly is the day the Lord has made and we rejoice. Alleluia, Alleluia.
EASTER SUNDAY – THE DAY OF THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LOR