Acts 2:14,22-33; Ps 16:1,2,5,7-10; Mt 28:8-15
The Eastern Church calls these days after Easter “Bright Week,” and in the West, we call it the Octave of Easter. In both liturgical traditions the church seeks to move the hearts of believers from glory to GLORY. Indeed, the Paschal Mystery is so bright with the glory of God that seven days become the day the Lord has made, and the light of the resurrection is that which shines in the hearts of those who rejoice and are glad! The Apostle Peter was bright with the glory of God as he gave witness to the Risen One to the crowds in Jerusalem. Jesus, the Nazorean, who had been hailed by them as The Son of David with loud Hosannas, was delivered up by the set purpose and plan of God. This Jesus, this true Son of David, was not abandoned to the nether world, nor did he undergo corruption. In the Old Testament tradition David the King wrote the psalms and in his song-text King David proclaimed beforehand the resurrection of the Messiah, the Anointed One.
Saint Peter in this bright witness uses the Traditions of his listeners to help them understand the mystery of the resurrection. This is a mystery into which he will invite them and us to immerse ourselves in a baptism of water and of Spirit so that we might see the path to life, to fullness of joy in his presence, to the delights at his right hand forever in the promised Kingdom.
The day of resurrection becomes the beginning of the Kingdom rather than the end of the world! Those in the crowd who believed in the day of resurrection when Saint Peter was bright with his witness in Jerusalem believed in a general resurrection for all the just that would begin the end of the world. The resurrection of Jesus the Christ reveals the brightness of this glory not at the end of history but in the midst of history “The Kingdom of God is among us!”
Such a bright witness from Saint Peter and from the apostolic church is based on the bright witness of the apostolic women, half-overjoyed and half-fearful. Not only did they see an empty tomb and an angel on Easter Morning, they saw the Risen Jesus and embraced his feet and did him homage. These women of faith responded to The Lord Jesus by embracing his risen body and offering to their Lord and God the worship, the homage, and the glory! For them and for their first audience, the brothers of the Lord Jesus, the forgiven disciples of the Lord Jesus, this Paschal Mystery is delightful news, but for the soldiers and the leaders it was dangerous news. The soldiers were bought out and instructed to tell the false story that the empty tomb was the result of the disciples stealing the body.
Although that false news story survives even to this very day in the faith-text of the Scripture, the good news story not only survives it brightens our Octave of Easter, our Fifty Days of the Easter Season, our whole lives. It is the bright witness of contemporary apostles that makes today “the day the Lord has made” for everyone who hears the good news that we can’t wait to share! Good news we know so well we can taste it in the Eucharist and share it in our witness.