Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bendigo
April 21, 2019
2 Sam 7:4-16; Luke 2:41-51
As we listen to the Easter Sunday Gospel, we might well wonder how Mary Magdalen and the others who went to the Tomb had forgotten what Jesus had said about being put to death and rising from the dead.
The great gifts of Easter are hope and faith. Hope: which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake. Faith: the belief that Christ has triumphed over evil despite appearances and that the Resurrection is the definitive act in human history.
So, we celebrate the mystery of the Resurrection, proclaim our faith and hope, and give thanks for these gifts – but let us look a little more closely at what that might mean for each one of us this Easter Sunday.
Wherever we share compassion, justice, reconciliation, faith, and encourage each other to be people of hope, we are people of the resurrection and ministers of the resurrection. Jesus is raised from death each time we live his way of life. We do this in our various ways of showing care and concern for the lives and troubles of others. Easter prayer can be an asking in prayer to be ministers of the resurrection, as we discern how best to serve the risen Lord.
The tomb was empty and, for the faithful ones, this was a sign of new life. Some would remember Jesus saying he would rise from death. Others would feel down, cheated or just lost. It is the same with ourselves: the tough times of life can bring us close to God, or distance us; suffering can make us better people, or make us bitter and isolated. We may feel a bit of both at times. The empty tomb is the message that nothing is final in this life, not even death. God's love is stronger than any human power, violence or cruelty. Love conquers all.
It is the 'first day of the week'. Mary Magdalene is the first witness of an event which marks not just the beginning of a new week, but the transformation of human history. But 'it is still dark' and she does not yet understand what has happened.
Peter and the other disciple (whom we know to be our writer, John), who had stood faithfully beneath the cross, run to the tomb. The other disciple saw and believed. Peter, whose last recorded action was to deny Jesus, still does not believe. We might ask ourselves: what blocks me from fuller faith?
Mary was first to announce the Resurrection, the first to receive the encouragement and hope that the risen Jesus offers. Others are remembered for promoting the message, for proclaiming the new truth. I take some time with Mary asking her to guide me as I wait; I pray that I may notice and take heart as I see signs of resurrection in my life.
So we see that even at this marvellous moment, those who had been closest to Jesus did not understand the scriptures. I ask God to help me this Easter; that I may recognise where the scriptures are coming to life, as I am guided by the spirit of God. The resurrection unites us with God and others. If we live in this way, we will transform the world.
“We proclaim the resurrection of Christ”, says Pope Francis, “when his light illuminates the dark moments of our existence, and we are able share it with others; when we know when to smile with those who smile, and weep with those who weep; when we accompany those who are sad and at risk of losing hope; when we recount our experience of Faith to those who are searching for meaning and happiness…and there - with our attitude, with our witness, with our life - we say ‘Jesus is Risen,’ rejoice and be glad, Alleluia!
Happy Easter to you, your families and friends as we celebrate this great Feast!