Easter Sunday, Year B
Acts of the Apostles 10:34a, 37-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23 (24)
April 4, 2021
“Mary Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning.”
Why? Why go early in the morning? Whose tomb was she going to?
When she arrived at the tomb, she saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance of the tomb. Seeing the tomb opened she “ran” to Simon Peter and the “other disciple whom Jesus loved.”
Why did she run?
In response to the news, Peter and the other disciple “ran” to the tomb. Why did they run?
When they arrived at the tomb, they saw the burial clothes there but no body. What does this mean?
When the other disciple went in, we are told, “he saw and believed.” What did he believe?
To answer these questions, we need to look at the whole story. We need to consider what we have celebrated in our Easter Triduum with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday when Jesus instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood. We need to know that on Good Friday we celebrated Jesus giving his life for us on the Cross. It is his tomb to which Mary Magdala, Peter, and the other disciple went to.
Yet the whole story is bigger yet. In our first reading, Peter speaks of “what has happened all over Judea.” He speaks of the ministry of Jesus “doing good and healing.” Peter witnessed all that Jesus did.
Peter then speaks of those who put Jesus “to death by hanging him on a tree.”
Peter speaks of how God raised Jesus on the third day.
That brings us to the empty tomb. It is Jesus’ tomb.
When they enter the tomb the burial clothes are there but the body of Jesus is not.
What happened to his body? Did someone steal it? If someone stole the body, why would they have left the burial cloths there?
The body was not stolen. There is good news! Jesus Christ is risen today!
The Crucifixion of Jesus was not a defeat by the Romans or the chief priests. It was God’s plan all along! God was in the control in all that happened to Jesus. Jesus submitted himself to the Father’s plan and good things, our salvation and resurrection, come from Jesus’ obedience.
Remember how the gospel passage tells us that the other disciple “saw and believed.” He saw the empty tomb. What did he believe “for they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead”?
What is the difference between “understanding” and “believing”?
Understanding can involve human knowledge. It is involves learning explanations for things so we can understand. Human understanding involves knowledge of earthly things.
Understanding is also one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual understanding can include human knowledge and understanding but it is more than that. It is involves divinely revealed knowledge, knowledge that we do not know by reason but in faith.
“He saw and believed.”
In physical terms, the disciple saw the tomb was empty. He believed because of what was in his heart, faith and love for God. In faith and love, he knew something more had happened. Jesus will appear to the disciples. Then, they will come to understand the Resurrection. For now, this disciple believes. He is transformed by what he experienced in the empty tomb.
Are we transformed by knowing Jesus? Do we know that in believing in Jesus and all He does for us that we can receive his forgiveness?
Do we make Jesus our cornerstone? Do we make Jesus the center of our lives? How does knowing Jesus, that He died and rose for us, change our lives?
Here I turn to the words of Paul to the Colossians, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above.” God is what is “above.” We are created to know God and to be loved by God. It is his love that we seek.
However, it is not always easy to “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” It seems more and more each year, the ways of “what is on earth” stand in contradiction to “what is above.”
Which way do you choose? If we choose “what is above”, we may face the rejection of the world. The world may not understand the ways of God. We may not always understand the ways of God but in faith we can believe.
The ways of the world can bring us short term pleasure but it is precisely that, short-termed. It passes as soon as the moment is over. It can leave us in our suffering.
God offers us something better than the short-termed pleasures of this world. God offers us eternal joy. God’s joy transcends any one particular moment. It transcends our physical suffering. In doing so, it helps us through our suffering.
It is in faith in Jesus that we truly come to know life in the Resurrection. With faith in God we have eternal life.
We may not always understand but that is when God gives us faith, faith that Jesus died and rose for us. Make Jesus the cornerstone of your life and He will raise you up.