Understanding and receiving the Easter message is somewhat dulled by our knowing the story by heart. To have been there, to have discovered the empty tomb and held the garments used to wrap Jesus’s body in, would have been too great a mystery for us to comprehend. After all, the Gospels are full of the most unlikely scenarios that can only be seen through faith, and, even then, many do not believe.
The liturgy of Lent folding into Eastertide is a way of reliving the Resurrection as though it is new to us. We are invited through the Gospel, through the Mass, to reenact the story in our hearts. Whilst always at risk of dumbing down the story of Easter into a ‘nice’ story, we are also guarded against doing so by the structure of the liturgical year, in which we live Jesus’s birth, life, death and Resurrection each year.
Everyone is faced with struggles in life, some of which may seem insurmountable. The greatest of these is death. Who has not dealt with grief, with the palliative care of a loved one, or facing our own personal mortality in a frightening way? Today is a celebration of God’s great love for us, but it is more than that. Through the Easter story, we may rest assured that Jesus has conquered the very greatest struggles of humanity, that is, death.
Just as the Gospels are a catalogue of the most unexpected events, so our own lives are full of scenarios that we cannot understand. Sometimes, we run from them because they are too great for us. By his Resurrection, Jesus is giving us revived hope in those situations. If he can conquer even death, then what have we to worry, as long as we are doing his will? Whatever is too great for us, is manageable for Jesus. And, just as Jesus sweated blood at the worry and anguish of his forthcoming crucifixion, but still did the Father’s will, so we shall receive the love and protection of God as long as we live our lives as Christians. Nothing is too great for God, and today represents a liturgical summit of this wonderful truth. May we use this day and the whole of Eastertide to realign ourselves with Jesus. For it is in Him that we live, and it is through him that we attain the Heavenly Kingdom, that is, the resurrection of our own bodies into eternal paradise.
On this day of Easter promise, we pray especially for our own dear Fr Kevin who went to meet the Lord yesterday morning after a life dedicated to MSJ, as student, monk, teacher, College President and Abbot. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit
A reading from the Gospel according to John (20:1-9)
Glory to you, O Lord
It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb.
She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple,
the one Jesus loved.
‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’
So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.