Mary of Magdala comes to the tomb during the early hours of morning while it is still dark and finds the stone rolled away. She runs to Peter and John to share with them the news, that: “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him” (Jn 20:2). Peter and John retrace the steps of Mary, running to find the tomb empty as well. All three are stunned because, “they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead” (Jn 20:9).
How can we blame them? Do we fully understand the reality and fact that Jesus has risen from the dead? There is conjecture today that Jesus did not really die, but woke up three days later, aching all over from the excruciating effects of the crucifixion. Others say that the accounts of the resurrection were mass hallucinations, or that the Gospel accounts of Jesus rising from the dead are mere myth. These propositions do not stand up to the fact that Jesus, fully God and fully man died, entered death, and conquered it. In so doing he entered into a new life, a new reality. Jesus, in becoming the first born of the dead, was transfigured from the three dimensional reality that we all know and experience, such that he now resonates at a higher pitch, in a higher dimensional reality. Jesus is the first born of a new creation!
All of human history changed in that tomb because of this new fact of the resurrection of Jesus. How this has happened is indeed a mystery, but in our seeking understanding, we will fall short and be frustrated if we only approach the mystery of God in the same way that we tackle a problem to be solved. The Apostles and disciples of Jesus struggled to find meaning and understanding about how Jesus crucified was now gone from the tomb. They came to understand the Mystery of the Resurrection, as they would the mystery that Jesus is fully human and fully divine, when they encountered Jesus again. The Mystery of the Resurrection is not a problem to be solved, but a person to encounter, a relationship to embrace, as it was for the Apostles and is so for each of us.
Faith seeking understanding is grounded in having an encounter with a person, Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Pope Francis writes: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness” (Francis, 9).
Today during the Mass when we enter the sanctuary and each time we dip our fingers into the baptismal or holy water font, we renew our baptismal vows. Each day may we renew our commitment to open our hearts and minds to Jesus who is the Christ, who has truly risen – Alleluia, Alleluia!!!
We are an alleluia people, meaning that even in our trials, loneliness, confusion, suffering and sin, we are a people endowed with hope, because we have not only been loved into existence, we have been loved into the promise of eternity, where suffering and death is no more!
May you all have a blessed and joyous Easter Sunday and Easter Season. May God bless and infuse you and all you hold dear in your heart with a soul on fire with his Love and Joy this day, and all days into eternity! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Photo: Christ the Redeemer statue – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Francis. Evangelii Gaudium, Joy of the Gospel, Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Frederick, MD: The Word Among Us Press, 2013.