The shimmering gold or white of the vestments, the triumphal music of Alleluias and Gloria and the beautifully bright hues of the flowers in the church, all help to recharge the liturgy, as our spirits are transported from ashes to celebration. This is the day the Lord has made, Easter Sunday – Alleluia!
First Reading: Acts 10: 34, 37-43
Peter’s testimony is not restricted to the resurrection, but also includes the historic ministry of Jesus.
Responsorial Psalm 117(118) is filled with gratitude for and joy in God’s love. It echoes Ps 136 in the refrain: ‘For his mercy endures forever’ and it reminds us of Pope Francis’s Bull with the challenge to the whole world that God’s mercy is everlasting and, so too, should ours be.
Second Reading Col 3:1-4
Paul wrote to the Colossians, although he had never ministered to them, nor visited them. It was his Ephesian convert, Epaphras, who had ministered to them. It seems that Epaphras had asked Paul some question regarding the catechesis of certain teaching.
So this letter is an answer to him regarding Christ and his redemptive power. That their spiritual renewal occurred through contact in baptism with the person of Christ and of the ideal Christian life in their world.
Gospel John 20:1-9
The first person we meet is Mary Magdalen. Not the Mary Magdalen causing consternation and scandal by going as an uninvited person to Simon’s home to minister to Jesus in public, nor is it the Mary Magdalen being dragged so ignominiously to Jesus, to be used as an instrument to entrap him.
Just imagine seeing a woman running to a cemetery even before the morning sun had succeeded in tempting others out of their comfortable beds. Well, in this part of the Gospel, we see Mary Magdalen running out of the night which had imprisoned her, to the tomb of Jesus. Love made swift her feet, as she tore through the intertwining shreds of darkness and light to Jesus’ tomb, only to be met by the puzzling and distressing sight of the displaced rock, which had secured the body in the grave.
I like to think of Mary Magdalen as someone creative, original and intuitive, a free spirit who acted on what she perceived to be proper, no matter what the neighbours thought. She was a practical woman; she did not waste time looking into the grave; she sensed that something was wrong, so something had to be done. She was not a one-woman show either. I’m sure that when she ran to tell Peter, the other women went back with her. She told Peter ‘we’ don’t know where THEY have laid him. I suppose ‘THEY’ were the enemy.
She recognized Peter as the leader of their fellowship, and so to him she cried out her perplexity. Peter knew Mary Magdalen to be no hysterical woman, so he believed her. Mary was the first one to see and to spread the news of the displacement of the stone and the first to see that Jesus was not there.
Then Peter and the other disciple went to see for themselves. Although the other disciple, who might have been John, outran Peter, he held back at the entrance of the cave, out of deference to Peter. This, to me was another sign of the acceptance of Peter as leader. Peter when he caught up with John walked straight in – was this impetuous Peter, or was it his acceptance of leadership.
Jesus must have walked out of his wrap-around linen cloths for they were just discarded on the ground. The headcloth was left neatly folded in a place. I think it was natural for Jesus to have removed this impediment to the movement of his jaw.
The Evangelist tells us that John saw and believed. Does this remind one of another disciple who said that unless he saw, he would not believe? Jesus had risen from the dead – this is what they believed at this moment.
Sr. Martine Pillay OP