Then Peter began to speak to them: "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, no with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus" head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
Faith in Jesus, raised by the Father, didn't spring up easily or spontaneously within the hearts of the disciples. Before their meeting with him, now full of new life, the Gospel writers talk about their confusion, their search around the tomb, their questions and uncertainties. Mary of Magdala is the best prototype of what probably happens to all of them. According to John's story, she seeks the crucified in the shadows, "when it was still dark." Naturally she seeks him "in the grave." She still doesn't know that death has been conquered. That's why the emptiness of the tomb leaves her upset. Without Jesus, she feels lost.
The other Gospel writers gather a different tradition that describes a search by the whole group of women. They can't forget the Master who has welcomed them as disciples: their love brings them to the tomb. They don't find Jesus there, but hear the message that points out to them where they need to direct their search: "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He isn't here. He has risen."
Faith in the risen Christ isn't born spontaneously in us either today, just because we have listened from childhood to catechists and preachers. In order to open us to faith in Jesus' resurrection, we need to make our own way. It's decisive to not forget Jesus, to love him passionately and to seek him with all our energies, but not in the world of the dead. The one who lives must be sought where real life is.
If we want to meet the risen Christ, full of life and creative energy, we need to seek him, not in a dead religion, one that is reduced to fulfilling and observing external laws and norms, but there where people live according to Jesus' Spirit, where people are welcomed with faith, love and responsibility for Jesus' followers.
We need to seek him, not among people who are divided and engaged in sterile battles, empty of Jesus' love and of Gospel passion, but there where we go about building communities that put Christ in their center because they know that "where two or three gather in his name, there he will be also."
We won't meet the one who lives in a faith that is stuck in routine, wasted in every kind of topic and formula separate from experience, but in a faith that seeks a new quality in our relationship with him and in our identification with his project. A Jesus who is obscure and inert, who doesn't fall in love or seduce, who doesn't touch hearts or spread freedom, is a "dead Jesus." He isn't the living Christ, risen by the Father, the one who lives and who gives life. (J A Pagola)
A rabbi once gathered his students together very early in the morning while it was still dark, and asked them this question: 'How can you tell when the night has ended and the day has begun?' One student answered: 'Maybe it's when you see an animal and you can distinguish if it's a sheep or a dog.' 'No,' the rabbi said. A second student answered: 'Maybe it's when you are looking at a tree in the distance and you can tell whether it's a fig tree or a peach tree.' 'No,' said the rabbi. After a few more guesses the students demanded the answer. The rabbi replied: 'It's when you look on the face of any woman or man and see that she is your sister and he is your brother. If you cannot do this, no matter what time it is, it is still night.'
In St John's account, the Easter story begins very early in the morning of the first day of the week while it is 'still dark'. In one of his letters, the same writer insists that 'the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining'. But this is strictly on one condition, which he spells out clearly: 'Whoever loves his brothers and sisters,' John says, 'lives in the light.' On the other hand, 'whoever prefers to hate . . . is in the darkness.' (1 Jn 2:8-11).
Just two days ago, as we remembered the sufferings and death of the most marvellous human being the world has ever known, we came face to face with the dark side of human nature, the darkness that led the enemies of Jesus to torture, humiliate, and finally murder him on a cross. On that black day in Jerusalem, the capacity of human beings to hate, hurt and harm one another went completely out of control. It's no wonder, then, that 'darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon', that 'the sun's light failed'', and that 'the curtain of the temple was torn in two' (Lk 23:24).
Between light and darkness, between good and evil, one mighty struggle is still going on. It's going on in the physical cosmos, in human societies, and within our own personalities. Although the darkness often appears to be stronger than the light, it has not yet triumphed. The light is remarkably resilient. Often in danger of being extinguished, it manages to survive, and even to win many victories. The words of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of modern India, still ring as true as when he spoke them seventy years ago: 'When I despair I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but, in the end, they always fall.' The words of the Easter Vigil liturgy express the same truth in an equally appealing way: 'The power of this holy [Easter] night,' it proclaims, 'dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy. It casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.' Our celebration of Easter reminds us that the darkness of evil and hatred will never have the last say. For the resurrection of Jesus proclaims the ultimate triumph of light over darkness and goodness over evil, both in us and in our world.
Jesus was buried at sunset, as darkness was once again creeping over the earth, to all appearances a victim and a failure. But on the third day afterwards the sun came up on him victorious and triumphant, alive, powerful and influential. Once again, 'the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world'' (Jn 1:9)
So we celebrate his resurrection today by rising from darkness and death ourselves. The Risen Lord himself, represented here by this beautiful Easter candle burning in our midst, is asking us to leave behind the works of darkness, to renounce and reject anything and everything in our lives which is dark, sinister and evil, and as persons connected to him by baptism, to 'walk always as children of the light', following in his footsteps.
So we are now invited to renew our baptismal promises. Reject darkness, evil and sin in every shape and form. And promise to follow Jesus Christ from now on, in a life of light, goodness and love, a life shaped by his own powerful example, a life supported and guided by the Holy Spirit, whom he first gave us at baptism and whom he gives us again right now. So together, dear People of God, let us renew our baptismal promises, and renew them as loudly, clearly, joyfully and enthusiastically as we possibly can . . . [Brian Gleeson cp]
Mary Magdalene finds the empty tomb and runs to the apostles to tell them her astonishing news. St John's is the only account where the apostles are directly involved in finding that the tomb was empty, and where neither Jesus nor angels were there to give any guidance about the meaning of it. The Beloved Disciple was present with Peter to see the discarded burial-cloths within the tomb, and he at once realised what this meant: that Jesus was risen from the dead!
Like many others, I felt deep emotion on seeing the Grand Canyon in Arizona; my whole being was thrilled by the awesomeness of it all. I had a camera, and I used it to the best of my ability, trying to capture the vision, the emotions, the experience, and the wonder of it. Later I realised the futility of such photos when I came home and tried to explain to friends what my experience had been. The fact was that it would be necessary for the others to see for themselves what I saw, before there was any hope of real understanding or appreciation taking place. For those who don't understand, no words are possible, and for those who do understand, no words are necessary. That's the sense we have when reading the resurrection story. It tells of a deeply mysterious fact, but we can't quite capture what its impact was within the hearts of his followers, that first Easter day.
Let's remember that this gospel, this truly great news, is timeless and so is still for here and now . In a real sense, I am reflected by every person in that story, and should try to put myself within the story as told by Saint John today. Am I like Magdalene who told the others the news of resurrection? Or like the apostles who responded immediately by running to the tomb to see for themselves. I?m not exactly sure when I first heard about the resurrection of Jesus. But it was many years later when I personally experienced this for myself. The discovery came in moments of darkness and desolation, when I cried out to God for help. We all have our moments when we cry out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?? But God does not forget or forsake us, and the darkest hour is just before the dawn.
On Easter morning, the stone was rolled away from the mouth of the tomb. Could I think of my heart as a tomb awaiting a resurrection? Can I identify anything akin to a stone that is holding me back from enjoying the fullness of life? It could be an addiction, a compulsion or some hidden and dark secret that I have never shared with anyone. We can be as sick as our secrets. But as pope Francis declares, "We are called to be people of joyful hope, not doomsday prophets!" Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we can all have hopeful joy, and go out to share it with the world.