Scripture: Lectionary #43: Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012. Acts 10:34,37-43. Psalm 118:1-2.16-17.22-23. Colossians 3:1-4 or I Corinthians 5:6-8. John 20: 1-9
“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” (Psalm 118:24). We join the three witnesses mentioned in John’s Gospel in realizing why this is the day the Lord has made. We listen attentively to the narrative the Fourth Evangelist gives us in which Mary Magdalene, Peter, and the Beloved Disciple are astonished at what they see at the tomb. Each has a distinct role in the witness they give us and it leads us to become witnesses to the event of Jesus’ rising from the dead.
The empty tomb is but a sign that Jesus is not among the dead. The tomb is not central to their belief even though it is empty. They need to remember what Jesus had told them, but it still is not clear. They had not understood what the Scriptures had said about him. Now they are at a crossroad in their belief in who Jesus is for them. That early Sunday morning is an exciting one as we learn of Mary’s running to Peter and the Beloved Disciple. They take up the race and run to the tomb to see for themselves. Peter, out of deference, is allowed to enter first even though the Beloved outran him. We can feel their excitement in the narrative we hear this Sunday. They become witnesses to the reality of the empty tomb, but that is not central to their witness. It is their belief that is bursting into a conviction that Jesus must be alive. Aren’t the cloths lying neatly set aside in the tomb? Jesus their Way, Life, and Truth is not there. Somehow they believe he has risen from the dead. They too may be with Jesus in a new way of living and then dying. Eternal life is what the Lord had spoken of and Martha had attested to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah and that he told her he is the Resurrection and the Life. They may not have thought of Martha, but soon they would come to see as she did that Jesus has power of death and brings to life. Lazarus is a witness to this magnificent and overwhelming power of the Son of God.
Peter becomes very strong in his faith and we learn of him preaching to others the whole Gospel about who Jesus is and what he says and how he passed from this life to the risen life with God his Father. We learn the essentials of the Gospel in the speech of Peter who traces the important events and effects of Jesus’ life upon those gathered to hear his sermon—one of several in the Acts of the Apostles. He becomes the fearless and bold preacher and witness to the Gospel and to the Resurrected Jesus. His witnessing like that of Magdalene and the Beloved Disciple are now foremost in their lives as apostles and disciples of Jesus. The whole world has to hear this and does through their proclaiming the Good News.
Witnessing is essential to our belief as we learned last night in the Easter Vigil. We renewed our Baptismal commitment and felt the grace of God take on something new in us just as it has in the past on Easter. The first witnesses celebrate this on the first day of the week—a new week that brings a new understanding to the meaning of Sunday for the Christian believers. Active witnessing is imperative for a believer in the Resurrection of Jesus, just as the passive witness of what we heard about Magdalene, Peter and the Beloved One and their witness. Their witness has awakened in us a stronger belief and commitment to who we are as Christians and how we are to realize our dignity as members of Christ’s Body. Like the Beloved Disciple we see and believe. Our formation in the faith continues with each yearly celebration of this greatest mystery of our faith. It instills in us hope for the future and for everlasting joy with the saints who surround the glorified Lamb of God ( Christ our Passover has been sacrificed). We have come to understand that Jesus HAD to rise from the dead. We believe just like the belief we see in Magdalene, Peter, and the Beloved Disciple. They knew and loved Jesus and now we can do the same for we are Easter people. Jesus is now our Way, Truth, and Life. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.