Homily for Easter Sunday Day Mass — Cycle C–2019
FIRST READING Acts of the Apostles 10:34a, 37-43
Peter proceeded to speak and said: “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”
SECOND READING Colossians 3:1-4
Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.
GOSPEL John 20:1-9
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
Christ is risen! You and I are called to believe and we receive our faith through these early witnesses. Those who have encountered the risen Christ, who appeared only to his disciples. Such witnesses have a sacred obligation to preach the message of conversion and solvation to all.
The Acts of the Apostles gives us the testimony of Saint Peter and ends with a very clear statement of faith: To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name. These early believers, in spite of all of their doubts about and rejections of Jesus finally acknowledge, and act in a way, that Jesus is the one chosen by God, that Jesus is the Savior and that, finally, Jesus is God.
The Letter to the Colossians begins with this affirmation: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. In Baptism we share in the merits of Christ’s Death and Resurrection. Through Baptism, we die to sin and rise to new life. If we remain united to him, we will one day rise in glory as he did. Once again, this is a clear affirmation that the early followers of Jesus had arrived at this clear Divine Truth that Jesus is Lord and Savior.
In the Gospel of John today we encounter Mary of Magdala going to the tomb of Jesus, finding it empty, and then running to tell the disciples. First on the scene, Mary Magdalene, as Fr. Sean Davidson describes in his fine book Saint Mary Magdalene: Prophetess of Eucharistic Love, runs “through the streets of Jerusalem towards the hill of Calvary. So eager was her desire to be in the presence of Christ’s dead body once again that she broke away from the group of holy women and arrived on her own before even the rising sun had shed its light upon her.” Peter and an unidentified disciple, almost certainly John, get to the tomb. Peter goes in and sees that the body is not there. There is no comment about the faith of Peter. The other disciple, probably John, goes in and the Gospel says this: Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.
As with the disciples, this faith must become our own and it must become so powerful that we act out our declaration: Christ is risen! We know from the Scriptures that faith may not take away all of our defects or even keep us from all sin, but it does show us the path on which we are to walk: complete trust in the Lord Jesus and a faithful following of His teachings. Christ is risen! Let us proclaim and act towards each other and the world in a way that leads our neighbors and families toward Him into the Kingdom.