April 17 – Easter Sunday
It is a heartfelt joy that I welcome all of you to Easter Sunday Mass! There is no greater celebration for Christians than Easter! It is good that you are here! But for a moment, let us travel back in time to that first Easter morning.
Since the death of Jesus, all who knew and loved him have been laying low. They’ve been grieving. They’ve been stunned. They’ve been trying to retrace the path of events that led them to this horrible and despite all Passion prediction to the contrary unanticipated crisis. Were they wrong to have entered Jerusalem? Was there a fatal mistake that could have been avoided earlier in the plan? Whose fault was it that things turned deadly so quickly? If Jesus foresaw all this, why didn’t he prevent it from happening? It’s safe to say the friends of Jesus have spent the past 36 hours trying to understand.
Then, the empty tomb is discovered. Mary of Magdala dashes through the dark and reports directly to Peter. Her interpretation? “They – the enemies of Jesus – have stolen his body. Peter runs to the site, sees every detail of the remaining contents of the tomb, but draws no stated conclusions. Another disciple goes with him, “sees” and “believes” – but we aren’t told precisely what he saw or what he believed. The evangelist comes to his own bottom line of all this frantic running and bewildered seeing: “They did not yet understand the Scriptures that Jesus had to rise from the dead.”
We now have the luxury of 2,000 years of Christianity and a sworn allegiance to this faith in the resurrection. When we hear the story of Easter morning from our vantage point, it’s easy to wonder what part of the Resurrection didn’t those early believers understand. Empty tomb, stone rolled away, burial cloths neatly piled up.
Ah. If only it were that simple. Many of us run all around the territory of religion, reporting and seeing and believing – but understanding little and incorporating less. Genuine understanding of the empty tomb isn’t an “aha!” moment that’s over and done with on Easter morning. It’s demonstrated in how you perceive every empty, lost, lonely, abandoned situation in this world and in your life. Is it hollow, or full of divine promises?
On behalf of Fr. James, Deacon Tom, our permanent deacons, pastoral and support staff, I wish you and your family a most blessed Easter day and Easter season!