April 10, 2020

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThis weekend, the Church celebrates the greatest of its feasts, the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord, or Easter. It is the greatest of feasts because it rejoices in the fulfillment of human salvation, finalized and completed when the Lord Jesus rose from death to new earthly and eternal life after having been crucified.

On Holy Saturday, after dusk, the Church presents its splendid liturgy of the Easter Vigil. Quite vividly in the Vigil’s readings, the Church recalls the long history of God’s unfailing love for us.

For Easter itself, the first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. Speaking on behalf of all the Apostles, Peter summarizes the life and mission of Jesus. More than a biography, it is a testament of God’s love for humanity, given in Jesus and in his sacrifice of himself. It invites people to follow the Lord, eagerly offering a reassurance that God is with us still alive in Jesus, the Risen One.

For the second reading, the Church offers a passage from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. The Apostle tells us, as he told his first audience, that we have been raised with Christ. We usually associate resurrection with death, in that resurrection is re-vivification after physical death. In the Pauline writings, resurrection also meant an event on Earth while physical life is present. It is a resurrection over sin and despair, a gift of God to each disciple.

St. John’s Gospel supplies the last reading. It is the familiar story of Mary Magdalene’s early morning visit to the tomb where Jesus had been buried after being crucified. She found the tomb empty. Immediately, she hurried to Peter and the other disciples to give them the news.

The disciples took her word. Peter and John, named as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” hurried to the tomb and saw for themselves that it was empty (Jn 20:2). John went into the tomb. He was not bewildered. Strong in faith, he knew that Jesus had risen.

Reflection

The readings for this feast, as well as the feast of Easter itself, are overpowering in the richness and breadth of their message. Jesus is the Savior! He lives forever!

In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter and the Apostles were exercising a role given them earlier by Jesus, as documented in the Gospels. Salvation in Jesus did not end when Jesus ascended to heaven. It lived on in the Apostles, and it lives now in and through the Church.

The second reading, taken from Colossians, calls us to turn totally to Jesus. We must drown our sins in baptism. Dead to sin, we also rise in our lives here on Earth. Sin is death. If we do not repent, our sins are final, dooming us to death. Turning to God brings us life.

Volumes have been written about these verses from the resurrection narrative from St. John’s Gospel. Two figures are very important. The first is Mary Magdalene. The second is the Beloved Disciple.

Both Mary Magdalene and the Beloved Disciple loved Jesus without qualification, perfectly, totally.

They are examples for us to remember. Mary Magdalene is a model to follow as temptation and doubts occur. She played with fire by paying attention to the corpse of a condemned traitor. The Romans always were looking for conspiracies, and they played for keeps. Yet, disregarding the risk, and indeed not knowing what she would find, Mary went to the tomb.

The Beloved Disciple possessed the insight to realize what the empty tomb meant. Loving the Lord is all that mattered. It answers all questions.

As humans, we cannot predict, control or explain everything. We need Jesus. He lives. He awaits us. He will guide and save us. †

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