07Apr 07 April. Easter Saturday

1st Reading: Acts (4:13-21)

Risking their lives, Peter and John tell what they have seen and heard

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. They said, “What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened.

Responsorial Psalm (from Ps 118)

Response: I will give thanks to you, Lord, for you have answered me

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
My strength and my courage is the Lord,
and he has been my saviour.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just. (R./)

The right hand of the Lord is exalted;
the right hand of the Lord has struck with power.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord.
Though the Lord has chastised me,
yet he has not delivered me to death. (R./)

Open to me the gates of justice;
I will enter them and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;
the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my saviour. (R./)

Gospel: Mark (16:9-15)

Mark’s summary of well-known resurrection encounters

After Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.


Overcoming obstacles to faith

The Sanhedrin, Judaism’s ruling body, found it impossible to imagine that Jesus could be the Messiah, and that he had really risen from the dead. To believe this would demand a major change in their whole belief-system; nothing less than a total reinterpretation of their Scripture and traditions. Yet two Galilean fishermen, Peter and John, stood before the council insisting that the crucified Jesus was alive again, and now present for everyone as a living force for healing and renewal. They made this claim on peril of their lives, heedless of the Sanhedrin’s prohibition (“ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.”) The message was too important to be repressed by any human authority.

One might say, his resurrection rolled away more stones than the one blocking his tomb; it also flung wide the doors to the future and gives us a glimpse of what lies beyond. The Sanhedrin, the disciples and we ourselves are asked to accept, in God’s most mysterious ways, that Jesus really is the Saviour, who throws light on all our lives and lets us reevaluate all that we previously thought we knew. Are we willing to allow the love of Jesus to cast its bright rays on our understanding, so that we shape our whole future in relation to him. If He has risen at the core of our existence, then our lives will be as transformed as were those of his disciples at the beginning.

Every Easter calls us to believe

The disciples refuse to believe that others had seen the risen Lord. Eventually Jesus himself appears to them and reproaches them for their failure to believe. It seems that nobody, not even his closest associates, was prepared to believe that he had risen from the dead unless they could see him for themselves. They struggled to bring themselves to believe such good news.

We too can be more prone to believing bad news than good news. We too can doubt the reports of others contained within the New Testament that the Lord has risen. We can be as incredulous and obstinate as the first disciples. Yet every Easter the Lord calls out to us to believe that he is risen, with all that this good news implies for us. Easter is the season when we allow ourselves to be touched by the almost unbelievable good news that the Lord is alive and that we are destined to share in his risen life, not only beyond this earthly life but already, by the power of faith.


(Saint John Baptist de la Salle)

John Baptist de La Salle (1651-1719) from Rheims, France, studied at the University of Paris before becoming a priest. He was an educationalist and founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (the de La Salle Brothers), dedicating much of his life to the education of poor children in France. Thus he is honoured as the patron of Catholic schools.



6 Responses

  1. Brian Fahy

    The road to God knows where

    The story of the Road to Emmaus is a great story and a great help at any stage of our life. Two men walking along a road, heads downcast, dreams dashed, hopes annihilated. Discussing the state of the world and of their world in particular, they are shattered men, their one great hope of achievement in life suddenly destroyed before their eyes. The Lord unrecognised walks beside them and asks to be part of their company and their conversation. They tell their sad story and he listens to every bit of it. Then responding to their tale of woe he paints a different picture. The elements of the story stay the same. He does not pretend that awful things did not happen. They did. But how we understand them and what they truly mean is often hidden from our sight and it takes the good Lord to tell us the truth of it.

    Our life is a journey of discovery. We set out with brave hearts eager to experience and to learn, but we do not know. Knowledge comes at a price. Sometimes that price is blood sweat and tears. But we grow and we learn and we find that we are resilient. We are tougher than we think we are. Early hopes and dreams may change or fade and die. Set backs and dark days descend upon us. We tried so hard and still it all went wrong. We lie in darkened rooms even as the sun is shining outside. We cannot cope with all this. But we do. Voices, gentle voices come to hear and help us. Curtains open. It is a new day.

    The Lord walks beside us each new day and asks to join our company and our conversation. If I allow this living Lord to walk beside me each new day I will never be alone again. Personal prayer becomes my way of living and my power of loving. The Lord is the one who knows the true meaning of my life and who can tell me the story better than I can tell it to myself. If I listen my heart will burn within me.

    Our world has turned life and everything in it into a commodity we can buy. Life is a package holiday for those who can afford the prices. Success is the accumulation of pleasures. But this is a lie. The truth is that life is a journey, a purposeful pilgrimage with a great destination.

    Let us walk the road.

    Brian Fahy
    4 April 2018

  2. Paddy Ferry

    I have never understood why they did not recognise him when he first joined them and walked along with them.

  3. Mary Valley

    As Brian states, “If I allow this living Lord to walk beside me each new day…”
    I think I do understand why they didn’t recognise him, Paddy @2. The mind and heart have to be open. The men were locked fast in their own thoughts so that no door was opened to letting anyone in.
    Isn’t it true that often we don’t recognise Christ walking beside us until after the event. Is it our own closed minds and hearts and our own self- absorption that prevents this recognition? However, even after the event it is a tremendous gift to realise He was walking alongside us all the time!

  4. Paddy Ferry

    Mary, I have been troubled by this passage for many years, in fact, ever since I visited Emmaus. I visited Emmaus twice in the 1980s as part of Holy Land pilgrimages and each time mass was celebrated there, this was the chosen Gospel reading. So many priests of my acquaintance seem to have a special feeling for the Emmaus story. It was the Gospel reading last Thursday in St. Michael’s in Newcastle which Keith O’Brien had chosen for his Requiem Mass.

    Not only did they not recognise him initially on the road to Emmaus, but ” once their eyes were opened and they recognised him, he had vanished from their sight”. It may well be an excellent metaphor for those of us who, in all sorts of ways, fail to recognise the Lord but we must expect to find some kind of authentic narrative in scripture passages like this too.

    Then in yesterday’s –Sunday’s — Gospel, the disciples were gathered in a room with the doors closed for fear of the Jews. Yet, Jesus suddenly appears among them and, eight days later, with Thomas now present, the same thing happens — Jesus suddenly appears among them.

    This does cause me to question the idea of a bodily, physical resurrection. I so admire Tony Flannery for having the courage to say that we need a new language to express these ancient beliefs to enable the modern, thinking mind to try and understand them.

    On my second Holy Land pilgrimage one of the priests who accompanied us was Fr. Mike Bagan. I am so sad to say that Mike passed away suddenly yesterday. He was only 64.
    He had two parishes. He had said 10.00 o’clock in his first parish and then he failed to turn up for 12.00 o’clock mass in his second parish.
    God rest his soul

  5. Joe O'Leary

    Let’s not forget Paul’s account of the resurrection — what was sown a physical body is raised a spiritual body — though this is rather in contradiction with the mention in Luke 24 of the risen Jesus eating fish. We can perhaps take that as an apologetic effort to refute the misconception that the spiritual body is not a body at all but a mere ghost.

  6. Mary Burke

    I suspect the detail of not recognising him serves to express the idea that there was something fundamentally different about the way he was present among them from what they had been used to.