Peter said, "Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified." Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him." And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
The word of the Lord is righteous,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full. (R./)
See, the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine. (R./)
Our soul waits for the Lord,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us
who have put our hope in you. (R./)
Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord;" and she told them that he had said these things to her.
A fascinating side of the Easter stories is how the risen Jesus was recognised only gradually by his closest friends. John’s report about Mary Magdalene challenging the gardener to hand back the body of Jesus conveys their stupor and confusion. All they hoped for at first was to be able to reverence his mortal remains. But when he calls Mary by her name (in Hebrew, Miriam,), she makes a joyful discovery: he was truly there, alive! Notice their eagerness to tell each other about him, to share their religious experience. “Go and tell” is a recurring theme in these Easter stories. Magdalene will tell the rest of the group, not just that he is alive, but that he is going back to the Father, his Father and theirs. The unique, special relationship conveyed by the phrase “my Father and your Father” is what the Magdalene recognises and passes on.
Then we have Peter, the church’s leading public witness, trying to help his Jewish people to recognise Jesus as their Messiah and saviour, even those who had called for his death by crucifixion. The kind of Messiah Peter had come to know wanted to call everyone to salvation, with their sins forgiven. All they need do to draw close to God was to welcome Jesus with faith, and receive the gift of his Spirit.
We too, in this Easter week, can come to recognise the various ways that Jesus is still alive among us, not only in the holy eucharist and in the Gospel we read, but also in our fellow-Christians, in the blessings of this world, and in whatever is best in our own selves.
Today’s gospel begins in sadness and ends in joy. In the early morning Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb weeping. But it ends with joy when the Lord for whom she was grieving found her, and called her by name. We will find the Lord if we search for him, for he is never far away. He is the good shepherd who calls by name. He came to seek and to save the lost, and we need to let ourselves be met by him, as Magdalene was. She has something to teach us about seeking the Lord even in our grief.