Scripture Readings: Acts of the Apostles 10:34, 37-43; Colossians 3:1-4; Gospel of Saint John 20:1-9
In the Gospel text for the Easter Day Mass, we hear of Mary Magdalene arriving “early in the morning on the first day of the week” at the tomb of Jesus and finding the stone rolled back and the body of Jesus gone.
It would have taken more than one person to open the grave, and in fact guards had been posted at the tomb, Mary Magdalene must have thought. Then how did the stone get rolled away and where was the body of Jesus? These were probably some of the many questions running through Mary’s head as she ran to alert Peter and John of what she had found, an empty tomb.
The Lord comes forth, “like a bridegroom coming from his tent,” as Psalm 19, verse 16, expresses it. Likewise, Christ the Lord rose from the dead on Easter morning, mysteriously and really, to bring salvation to all the nations and to each of us.
The empty tomb was a clear sign to Christ’s disciples. Seeing the empty tomb they could begin to comprehend what had been foretold to them by Jesus: that he would suffer and die for the sins of the world and then rise triumphantly in glory, never to die again.
When they pondered the empty tomb, the Lord’s followers came to know that something significant had taken place, a change of fortune had occurred and that the clock could not be turned back.
Over the next days and weeks, Christ revealed the glory of his resurrection to many of his disciples. Mystery accompanied his appearances, and called for eyes of faith to behold the Lord really in their midst once again, yet now in a changed manner. Having tasted death, Christ became the conqueror of death once and for all. Death could not hold the Lord captive, being himself the author of life.
Only an event such as this could reverse the sadness and even despair of the first followers of the Lord. They become, as a result of Christ’s resurrection, radiantly joyful, courageous and ultimately willing to give their life for the cause. Many of them in fact died as martyrs.
Belief in the resurrection is central to our Christian religion. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit we are being given on this joyous day eyes of faith to perceive and know the power of the unconquered Sun of Justice, Christ the Lord. The greatest joy we can imagine or experience is an encounter with the living Lord who desires to be at the center of our existence as individuals, as community and as Church.
We are invited now to celebrate this “festival of festivals,” as Easter is often called, with joy and thanksgiving for the victory Christ has won, triumph over sin and death, and offering us the opportunity to partake of eternal life with the Holy Trinity and the communion of saints.
With Mary Magdalene and the other disciples, we should hasten to meet the Lord and partake of the banquet being offered to us, costing only a willing heart, ready to be transformed by the love of God poured into our hearts.
“Christ my hope has arisen,” the Church sings with Mary Magdalene during the Easter Octave in the Sequence at Mass. We are utterly amazed before this mystery, we confess our lack of comprehension, and yet we live with full confidence that it is true.
We have put on Christ, as a “new outfit,” so to speak, to announce to all we believe Christ is risen. We eat Easter eggs, symbols of life that springs from the shell like Christ from the tomb.
Even as believers, can we imagine for a moment that we really understand fully the meaning of the resurrection? Most likely not, for we are dealing with something that transcends understanding; it requires faith!
The life we live is hidden now with Christ in God, Saint Paul reminds us (see Colossians 3:3). We live with and in a mystery as we cry out with unceasing Alleluias, that great word of this season, which means, praised be God!
Each of us is called to be a sign of hope to all we meet, as we live each day in the light of the Lord’s resurrection, always ready to forgive those who offend us and to offer a helping hand wherever we can.
May our joyful partaking at Holy Mass of the Eucharistic elements, bread and wine that have become the Body and Blood of the Lord, fill us with never ending joy.
May the risen Christ be our only hope! A blessed Easter day and season to all! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!