April 10, 2009

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

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionA variety of biblical readings occur in the course of liturgical celebrations for Easter. Nevertheless, all the readings center upon the event of the Resurrection itself.

These reflections refer to the liturgy for Masses during the day on Easter Sunday rather than the readings for the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.

The first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles.

It will begin a pattern for the Easter Season. Throughout this season, the Church will draw from Acts its first Scriptural reading.

In this reading for Easter, Peter addresses a crowd. His sermon, one of several in the early chapters of Acts, summarized the Gospel message.

Jesus is Lord. John the Baptist foretold the coming of Jesus. Jesus was the gift and representative of God. Jesus died on Calvary for the sins of all humanity.

However, after dying on Calvary, Jesus rose and was seen by witnesses. The Lord commissioned the surviving Apostles to proclaim the Gospel as they went to places far and near.

The reading, while crisp and not too long, focuses attention upon the Lord and upon the basic message of the Christian Gospel. Jesus is the Savior. Jesus is God. His death redeemed the world since it showed perfect obedience to God. He rose from the dead.

All this was in space and time. Human witnesses actually saw the Risen Lord.

St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians provides the second reading.

It is short, but it is firm and insistent. Paul calls the Corinthian Christians to turn to Jesus. They are with the Lord. The Lord is with them. Such is the effect of the Incarnation, of the Redemption and of the personal decision to turn to God.

Death is everywhere. It is the universal human experience. Jesus vanquishes death. Because of Jesus, we Christians also have defeated eternal death.

The Gospel of John furnishes the last reading.

Triumphantly, it reveals the excitement in which it was written as well as the sense that the Resurrection of Jesus was an event that was unique in earthly history, but ultimately it proclaims the Lord’s victory over death and over sin.

Those disciples who were near to the Lord first experienced the meaning of the Resurrection. Mary Magdalene, forever faithful, actually discovered that the tomb was empty. She alerted Peter and the other Apostles to her discovery.

Peter and the Beloved Disciple hurried to see for themselves. The Beloved Disciple saw the empty tomb and remembered the Lord’s prophecy of rising from the dead.


This weekend, celebrating the Lord’s Resurrection, the Church rejoices in the greatest triumph of Jesus over death and evil. He is risen!

The second reading from Paul’s first letter to Corinth sets the stage. The Resurrection of Jesus has profound implications for each human being.

St. Paul was justifiably and totally taken with the realization that through the Incarnation—the fact that in the one person of Jesus the nature of God and human nature co-exist—we humans commune with God if we truly and willingly turn ourselves to God.

So the Church calls us to be joyful. United with Christ in the Incarnation, in our faith, we need not fear death. Death has been defeated. We can live eternally. The key to life eternal is in our will to love God.

We continue to meet God, drawing from God strength and courage, and we learn of God from the Church. The audience that heard Peter’s sermon, repeated in Acts in the first reading, was typical of what we are. We are sinners.

Still, through Jesus, God touches us. Jesus revealed God most especially to the Apostles, of whom Peter was the chief. Peter spoke for them all. Through him, therefore, Christ spoke again.

Christ speaks still through the Apostles led by Peter. Christ lives! †

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