Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8; Sequence: Victimae Paschali Laudes; John 20:1-9
First Reading: In this passage from Acts of the Apostles, we hear Peter recount the story of the life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. While all he has accomplished has been witnessed to by the prophets, the redemption of the Risen Christ has been accomplished for all people, including the gentiles. Anyone who believes and bears witness to him will be forgiven.
Psalm 118: Today’s psalm is the last of five consecutive Hallel or Alleluia psalms that were used at special feasts, and most especially at Passover.
Second Reading: In this short passage from 1 Corinthians, Paul chastises the Corinthians not to tolerate immoral behavior in the community. Like fresh dough, the Corinthians are called to be single minded, focused only on their new life in Christ.
Sequence: Today the Church sings a sequence – an ancient, poetic song that precedes the singing of the Gospel Acclamation. The Easter Sequence is a song of praise to the Paschal Victim that also reflects the Gospel account of Mary’s encounter with the Risen Lord.
Gospel: In John’s Resurrection narrative, the Risen Lord appears only to Mary Magdalene, who comes to the tomb in darkness. Light and darkness are a theme in this Gospel, serving as a metaphor for faith versus lack of faith in a number of stories. Mary then runs to Peter and the figure commonly called “the beloved disciple” to share the news that “they” have taken the body of the Lord, a report she will make three times in the course of John’s Resurrection narrative.
Reflection: We take for granted that bunnies and eggs go together at Easter; we don’t have to be logical about it. The fun in precisely in the illogic! So it is with the Easter mystery. The Easter mystery is something we accept in faith. We can’t be logical about it. The grace is precisely in the illogic. True, Jesus had raised people from the dead, for example, the son of the widow of Nain and his own friend Lazarus. But they were only resuscitated and would face death again. Jesus is not merely resuscitated; he is raised up from the grave to new life, never to die again. Our belief enables us to share in this same risen life. Yes, our mortal bodies will die like Jesus’ and Lazarus’s. But this risen life that is already within us is forever. It defies logic. It is preposterous. We do not understand it. But we believe it, we live it, we embrace it. The mystery: we share in eternal life – risen life with no end.
Today’s Resurrection account in John begins with Mary Magdalene arriving alone at the tomb. Although John tells us nothing about why she went, he does say when: it was dark. Upon seeing the stone removed, she fled to Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, the key disciples in the Gospel according to John. They ran, looked inside the tomb and realized from the careful placement of the cloths that there had been no robbery. Coming out of the darkness of confusion, they began to believe. But, John tells us, they had not yet understood the meaning of the Scriptures, so they returned home.
In the post-Resurrection narrative that follows, which we do not hear in the Sunday Lectionary, the Risen Lord appears to Mary, calls her by name, and tells her to return to the disciples, this time declaring the message of the Resurrection. As Jesus’ disciples grasped that message, they realized what God had done for Jesus, for them and for the world.
Now that we have realized the gift, which defies logic, we need to grow in our love and our personal relationship with Jesus Christ so that we, like the beloved disciple, will be able to see and believe, even though Jesus has not yet returned in glory on the clouds of heaven.
Question for reflection: How do I encounter the risen Christ in my daily discipleship?
Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.