Saint Vincent Archabbey
Easter Sunday, Classic
Sunday, April 1, 2018
John 20: 1:9
JohnJohn's gospel ends as it began, with the question: where does Jesus dwell? Immediately after his baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan, Jesus noticed two of the Baptist's disciples following him. He said to them, "What are you looking for?" They replied, "Rabbi, where are you staying?" Jesus said to them, "Come, and you will see" (John 1: 38?39). Now at the end after his death and burial, Mary of Magdala goes to the tomb while it is still dark to visit this final earthly dwelling place of Jesus. Seeing that the tomb is empty, she finds Simon Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved, and says to them, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him.?
Peter and the other disciple run to the tomb. Peter enters the tomb first and sees the burial cloths there, and the "cloth that had covered the head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.? The other disciple follows Peter into the tomb; he sees and believes. John adds that they did not yet understand the Scriptures that Jesus had to rise from the dead.
The The climax of the Easter gospel and the essence of its implications for us lie in the statement "he saw and believed". Coming to believe in the Risen Lord is the purpose and the point of the entire gospel: "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name? (John 20: 30?31). John wants us to identify with the two disciples of John the Baptist who ask Jesus, "Where are you staying?? He also wants us to identify with the "beloved disciple? who runs to see where Jesus is so that we, like him, will see and come to believe.
The end of John's gospel begins our encounter with the Risen Lord.
The "sign? that leads the beloved disciple to believe is the cloth that had covered the head of Jesus. John is the only evangelist who mentions this cloth so we know it is significant in his narrative. The disciple upon seeing it very likely connects its meaning with the head cloth that Moses put aside when he ascended to speak face to face with God (Exodus 34: 33?35). Now the beloved disciple realizes with an intuitive leap of faith that Jesus, one greater than Moses, has ascended to be face to face with God in glory.
Jesus no longer dwells in a tomb; he is alive and has gone to dwell with the Father as he had promised. In the following episodes John then relates how the community of disciples comes to believe that Jesus has also kept his promise to return to be with them through the Spirit (John 14: 3?18). It is now possible through faith to dwell where Jesus dwells, in God.
Was the head cloth that the beloved disciple saw proof that Jesus rose from the dead and had ascended to the Father in glory? Of course not. However, for him it was a sign like the other signs of the gospel that could lead to belief. A sign that leads to faith or to a deeper faith in the Risen Lord is unique for each of us: the head cloth led the beloved disciple to believe, but not Peter. For one of us, it may be hearing the gospel or homily on Easter Sunday. For another it may be the experience of seeing a spring flower or listening to Mahler's "Resurrection Symphony.? What is needed on our part is unconditional commitment and openness in seeking truth: "Whoever lives the truth comes to the light?? (John 3: 21).
Each of us is called to believe and to become a beloved disciple. Each of us is called to dwell where Jesus dwells and to have life in his name. For this gift of God's love we are grateful, and in this faith we can celebrate Easter with hope and joy.
Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.
The Easter Vigil, Modern/>
Sunday, April 1, 2018
The The Easter Vigil mass is the greatest liturgy of the year and is both the culmination of and the point of departure for the entire year that precedes and follows it. As such the way in which the Church proclaims the Scriptures at the Vigil is of great importance, since at this pivotal moment new catechumens and candidates are presented with an integrated teaching of the faith, and those in attendance who are already initiated into the sacramental life of the Church are reminded of their belief and its biblical origins.
The Easter Vigil has always been rich in Scripture, including at one time no fewer than fourteen readings. In every form it had from its earliest days the Easter Vigil always fashioned its readings into a beautiful pedagogy that led the Christian faithful to hear, ponder, and respond to a sequence of Scriptures that illustrated the history of our salvation. The present Vigil expresses this movement of worship and catechesis over the course of a total of nine readings, which may be reduced to five "where grave pastoral circumstances demand it."
The Vigil readings start with the first chapter of Genesis (Gen 1:1?2:2). The Easter Vigil thus ?begins at the beginning? and establishes the creation of all existence as the cornerstone of God's relationship with his people. This lesson in turn leads into the theme of covenant, which begins to be addressed in the story of the binding of Isaac, told in the second reading of the Vigil, also taken from the book of Genesis (Gen 22:1-18).
The covenant made with Abraham is next confirmed and vindicated once more in the Vigil's third reading, which recounts the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt (Exo 14:15-15:1).
No fewer than four readings from the prophetic books of the Old Testament grace the Vigil mass following the exodus account, and they carry the story of salvation forward across many centuries of the history of Israel. These prophetic readings remind us that God reveals himself not only in words but in deeds as well?actions anticipating God's ultimate "deed" of raising Jesus from the dead.
Capping the Easter Vigil's scriptural catechesis, the two last readings are taken from the New Testament (from Saint Paul and one of the gospels) and they set forth the primal moment of the Vigil in dramatic fashion: the church which has been shrouded in darkness for much of the liturgy is now bathed in light, a soaring triple alleluia is sung in anticipation of the Good News, and the message of the re-capitulation of all creation is announced in the gospel.
Having retraced the history of salvation, the Easter Vigil liturgy reveals to its participants a profound biblical instruction concerning creation, revelation, and redemption, themes which are not only a powerful part of Jewish scriptural piety but which form a basis for Christian theology and spirituality. Those sharing in the Vigil are invited to relive the seminal moments in the past when God shaped the lives of his people; the arc of Easter catechesis then leads them into the rites of baptism and the Eucharist that follow the Vigil readings and which are their natural fulfillment.
From start to finish every word and gesture of the Easter Vigil liturgy is stepped in meaning. The nine readings which together form its biblical core impart lessons which steer the hearers of the scriptures on the way of salvation, preparing them to encounter the risen Lord, to recognize him, and to embrace him with the fullness of Paschal joy. Alleluia?happy Easter!
Father Edward Mazich, O.S.B.