Gospel – John 20; 1-9
The celebration of Easter begins in darkness on Holy Saturday Night with the Vigil Mass. The darkness soon gives way to the small flicker of the Easter Fire and the procession with the freshly lit Paschal Candle. As the procession proceeds up the main aisle of the church the flame is passed to those present and by the time the candle is brought to the sanctuary for the singing of the Exultet the entire church is bathed in the light from all of the candles. It is always an impressive celebration in which the sight and sounds bring home the power of the Resurrection.
There are different readings for the various Masses on Easter Sunday that together paint a picture of all that took place the day Jesus Rose from the Dead. The Gospel for Easter Sunday tells of Mary Magdalene finding the tomb empty and running to the apostles to tell them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb….” It is a Gospel that begins in the pre-dawn darkness with Mary Magdalene going to Jesus’ tomb as a mourner. She finds the tomb is empty and runs to get Peter and John for fear that someone took the body. She returns to the tomb with Peter and John and they enter it. This time she as well as the others see the empty tomb as a source of hope. Their eyes and hearts are open to the reality that Jesus is Risen. It’s important for us to realize that when the tomb was discovered to be empty the immediate response was not that of the Halleluiah Chorus. They were still mourning and the intensity of their sadness blurred the glory that was before them. When the glory of the Risen Lord finally tore through the sadness, they recognized the Risen Lord, and that was when the shouts of Alleluia came forth from them.
For them and for us this is just the beginning. Easter was not just one day, it was the beginning of a new era, and the same is true for us. Our Liturgical calendar provides us with an Easter Season of fifty days during which we celebrate the Resurrection. The Easter Season is a time to celebrate with great joy the victory of Jesus over sin and death and embrace the truth that his victory is our victory. It would benefit us if we were to avoid the tendency of looking at Easter as merely the end of Lent, rather may we see it as a new beginning in our journey of faith. Jesus’ victory is one that never ends.
Easter provides us with a new beginning to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and his continued presence in our lives. The Risen Lord is always with us on our journey of faith. Our journeys usually have their high and low points, but Jesus is with us through them all. The grace of the Easter Season can remove sadness from our hearts, doubts from our minds and complacency from our souls. It is a grace that can replace these with joy, renewed faith and a new zeal. The blessings of this season are being poured out on us, all we need do is to open ourselves to receive them and stake claim on the power of the Risen Lord in our lives today. We are loved by God and embracing the Risen Lord is accepting this love. May we experience the love and joy of the Risen Lord and cry out in our hearts and with our voices, “Alleluia! Jesus is Risen.”
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.
Photo: Seth Harbaugh, the Holy Land, present-day site marking the Tomb.