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."
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
His mercy endures forever. (R./)
The right hand of the Lord has struck with power;
the right hand of the Lord is exalted.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord. (R./)
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the Lord has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes. (R./)
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.
(or: 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
Celebrate the festival with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth
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.
Mary Magdalene finds the empty tomb and runs to the apostles to tell them her astonishing news. Only in St John’s account are the apostles directly involved in finding that the tomb was empty, though neither Jesus nor an angel gave them any guidance about what it meant. The Beloved Disciple was beside 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!
I remember my emotion on seeing the Grand Canyon in Arizona; my innards were thrilled by the awesomeness of it all. I used my camera, trying to capture the sight, the emotions and the wonder of it. Later I realised the futility of such photos when I came home and tried to explain to friends what the experience was like. They would need to see it for themselves to appreciate its grandeur. As the saying goes, “For those who don’t know, no words are possible, and for those who understand, no words are necessary.” We sense something like this when reading the resurrection story. It tells of a deeply mysterious fact, but we can’t quite capture what its impact was in the hearts of the disciples, that first Easter day.
The Easter message, this truly great news, is timelessly true, and so it is still a message for here and now. We can identify with each person in the story told by Saint John today. Do we, like Mary Magdalene, share with others the news of the resurrection? Do we run eagerly to the tomb, like Peter and John, to find out how and whether Jesus can still feature in our lives? Only rarely do we experience the Easter mystery – but we can catch some hint of the wonder of it from the Gospel stories. The message is that God does not forget or forsake us, and the darkest hour is just before the dawn.
On Easter morning, the stone was rolled away. Are our hearts like a tomb awaiting new life? Is anything holding us back from renewal of spirit? Is there any hint of addiction, any dark secret never shared with anyone. We can be sickened by our secrets. But as pope Francis says, We are called to be people of joyful hope, not prophets of doom. Through the resurrection of Jesus, we get an infusion of hope and joy, and an invitation to share them by our way of living.