First Reading: Acts 10:34, 37-43
(Peter and the other apostles are witnesses to the resurection.)
Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4
(Christ is now in glory; we share in his risen state..)
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
or: 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
(celebrate the festival with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth)
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, no with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Gospel: John 20:1-9
(The empty tomb seen by Peter and the Beloved Disciple is a sign of the resurrection of Jesus)
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus” head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
A Mystery Beyond Words
Mary Magdalene finds the empty tomb and runs to the apostles to tell them her astonishing news. St John’s is the only account where the apostles are directly involved in finding that the tomb was empty, and where neither Jesus nor angels were there to give any guidance about the meaning of it. The Beloved Disciple was present with Peter to see the discarded burial-cloths within the tomb, and he at once realised what this meant: that Jesus was risen from the dead!
I remember my reaction the first time I saw the anything as vast as the Grand Canyon in Arizona; my whole being was thrilled by the awesomeness of it all. I had a camera, and I used it to the best of my ability, trying to capture the vision, the emotions, the experience, and the wonder of it. Later I realised the futility of such photos when I came home and tried to explain to friends what my experience had been. The fact was that it would be necessary for the others to see for themselves what I saw, before there was any hope of real understanding or appreciation taking place. For those who don’t understand, no words are possible, and for those who do understand, no words are necessary. That’s the sense we have when reading the resurrection story. It tells of a deeply mysterious fact, but we can’t quite capture what its impact was within the hearts of his followers, that first Easter day.
Let’s remember that this gospel, this truly great news, is timeless and so is still for here and now. In a real sense, I am reflected by every person in that story, and should try to put myself within the story as told by Saint John today. Am I like Magdalene who told the others the news of resurrection? Or like the apostles who responded immediately by running to the tomb to see for themselves. I’m not exactly sure when I first heard about the resurrection of Jesus. But it was many years later when I personally experienced this for myself. The discovery came in moments of darkness and desolation, when I cried out to God for help. We all have our moments when we cry out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ But God does not forget or forsake us, and the darkest hour is just before the dawn.
On Easter morning, the stone was rolled away from the mouth of the tomb. Could I think of my heart as a tomb awaiting a resurrection? Can I identify anything akin to a stone that is holding me back from enjoying the fullness of life? It could be an addiction, a compulsion, a resentment, or some hidden and dark secret that I have never shared with anyone. We can be as sick as our secrets. But as our pope Francis puts it so well, “We are called to be people of joyful hope, not doomsday prophets!” Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we can all have hopeful joy, and go out to share it with the world.