Updated: Apr 17
Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
If Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year,” then Easter is the most joyous, glorious, awesome time of the year! Really? Today’s readings don’t exactly brim over with the kind of holiday cheer we find at Christmas—except for the responsorial psalm, which admittedly rings with gleeful joy. But otherwise, not so much. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter gives a dry, condensed rendering of the story of Jesus to a group of Gentiles in Caesarea. The Colossians reading actually does have us looking forward to glory. Most underwhelming, though, is the Gospel proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we want to hear about angels and earthquakes and trumpets and glory, we hear about a dark, silent, empty tomb. This Easter Sunday story from John’s Gospel is startling in its emptiness. Like Peter in the story, we must enter into this mystery.
THE MYSTERY OF EMPTINESS
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! This Paschal greeting is customary in Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches on Easter Sunday. Then there is Saint Augustine’s acclamation of joy: We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song! However you express it, Easter is the time for rejoicing because Jesus Christ, our friend and brother, is risen from the dead. And yet today’s scriptures are less joyful than one would expect for the most important feast in the Christian calendar. Perhaps we are being asked to look deeper into the mystery of the Resurrection, just as Peter went into the tomb to look deeper into the mystery of its emptiness.
Mary Magdalene, who loved the Lord so much that she risked everything, possibly even her life, to go to the tomb before daybreak, finds the stone rolled away and assumes that someone has taken Jesus’ body. Frightened and sad, she runs to tell Peter and John. They all run back to the tomb, but what do they expect to see? Peter enters the tomb and sees. John enters, sees, and believes. But what does he believe? Scripture states, “For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead” (John 20:9). They went home, not really knowing what had happened. But John “believed” something.
What do we believe? Somewhere between that Easter morning and Peter’s confident teaching about Jesus in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, something (the Risen Christ) happened. Peter has evolved from his bewilderment into a witness to the Resurrection.
What are we to find in the empty tomb? Maybe the Colossians reading has an answer. By entering the empty tomb of our lives to seek the Lord, we see, we believe, we die, to be raised with Christ. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). And we will rise in glory with him.
Today’s Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37–43; Ps 118:1–2, 16–17, 22–23; Col 3:1–4 or 1 Cor 5:6b–8; Jn 20:1–9 or Mt 28:1–10
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