Saint Vincent Archabbey
Easter Sunday, Classic
John 20: 1–9
John's resurrection account is relatively brief and differs significantly from the Synoptic accounts. Mary Magdalene has a prominent role here and the mysterious "other disciple whom Jesus loved" appears again just as he did at the Last Supper. The special attention given to Mary Magdalene suggests that she is a person who embodies the ideal of love that is so evident in the fourth gospel.
After hearing about the empty tomb, Peter hurries there to see what this might mean. But the unnamed "other disciple" outruns him, and then defers to him, thus permitting Peter to be the first to enter the tomb. This gesture acknowledges the authority of Peter but it also reveals how deeply the beloved disciple has understood the teaching of Jesus about unselfish love. It has been noted that in John's gospel Peter is the unquestioned leader of the Church, thus guaranteeing good order. The "disciple whom Jesus loved" represents the prophetic and mystical dimension of the Church that prevents authority from becoming authoritarian.
Easter is the feast of all feasts.
The feast of Christmas did not even exist for the first two centuries of the church's life, but Christianity is inconceivable without Easter. This feast is the contact point between the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament for it occurred on the anniversary of the Exodus of Israel from Egyptian bondage and fulfills the promise in that central event in Israel's history. If we do not understand Easter, we do not have a clue about the meaning of Christianity or about its relationship to Israel.
To understand this central feast, we must realize that it is, as it were, the third act in a drama that begins already on Holy Thursday and continues through Good Friday. Missing the first two acts of the drama almost guarantees that one will miss the meaning of the drama.
Therefore, to ignore Holy Thursday and Good Friday almost guarantees a misunderstanding of Easter Sunday.
On Holy Thursday, Jesus sums up the whole meaning and purpose of his mission on earth. This meaning is found in the Eucharist in which Jesus offers his Body and pours out his precious Blood for others. In other words, Jesus has come to tell us that the only path to real life and happiness is the path of unselfish love. We must begin our Easter celebration, therefore, with our acceptance of this ideal as the model for our own behavior.
Good Friday tells us that living unselfishly will be very difficult. Every act of unselfish love is a little dying. But in such dying there is also a hint of the happiness and life that are promised to those who are not afraid to walk the path of Jesus.
On Holy Saturday, the liturgy is muted and there is a quiet but powerful sense of expectation. It seems that the whole universe, here and in heaven. is holding its breath as it waits to see whether unselfish love, which often appears to be so foolish, really does make sense for us. The triumphant answer is given on Easter Sunday when the flowers and the bells and the alleluias attempt to capture the glory of this resounding victory of Jesus over sin and death. The celebration of Easter joy thus confirms the wisdom of believing what Jesus taught on Holy Thursday and of living this wisdom, patiently and trustingly, on the Good Fridays of our lives.
Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.Easter, Modern
Mass during the Day
John 20: 1 - 9
Alleluia! Jesus is Risen!
This is the greeting that we proclaim today, and the song that we joyfully sing. However, the first Easter did not begin as a joyous day. Peter and the ten remaining apostles where hiding in the upper room, both grieving the death of Jesus, and fearful of what might happen to them. Mary of Magdala goes to the tomb early in the morning to perform the burial rituals that could not be done earlier because of the Passover. She is not going there to see the Risen Lord, she is going to anoint dead man who changed her life. She arrives at the tomb and discovers that the stone was removed and the tomb was empty.
Again, it was not a moment of "yes, He did it." but one of deeper grief as she runs to the upper room to tell Peter that someone took the body from the tomb. This news gets Peter and the others moving and when they arrived at the tomb, Peter entered and he understood, for Jesus had told them that, "he had to rise from the dead." This is the moment when their mourning was turned to joy, and they began to proclaim, "Alleluia! Jesus is Risen! We can only imagine the pre-Resurrection thoughts and emotions of the apostles and followers of Jesus, but we are not called to imagine their Resurrection Joy, but rather to experience that joy that comes from our Risen Lord.
Last June Pope Francis raised the liturgical celebration of the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to the dignity of a feast, the same rank given to the liturgical celebration of the Apostles.
The decree entitled The Apostle of the Apostles [Apostolorum apostola], explains the reason for the Pope’s actions and the long tradition of Mary Magdala being known as the Apostle of the Apostles. She was the one who discovered the empty tomb and announced this to Peter and the others. In the other Gospel accounts she is the one who the Risen Lord appeared to first. This Gospel and the elevation of her Feast is a recognition of her important role on Easter.
During the Easter Season we will hear the Gospel accounts of the Risen Lord and how the news of his Resurrection spread. It serves as a time for us to celebrate this great event. It is the act of God’s love that freed us from sin and opened for us the way to the glory and joy of eternal life in Heaven. This is a season for us to celebrate, not just the historical event of two thousand years ago, but also the reality that this event is timeless.
The Risen Lord still touches and changes the hearts of men and women. One way to see this is by noting the number of people in the RCIA who entered the church at the Easter Vigil. His presence continues to draw others to know him personally, and is the call for us to lift up our hearts and souls with renewed faith and joy. Like Mary Magdala, we are the apostles of our own time who are called to run with joy to proclaim to others that Jesus is Risen.
This is a joy and a proclamation that in itself speaks volumes and draws others to experience Jesus more in their lives. May it not be muted by whatever clouds surround us, but let it be an experience that casts away darkness in our lives so that the Glory of the Lord can shine forth brightly. May this Easter Season be a time for us to sing out "Alleluia!" from the depths of our hearts.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.