A Witness to Resurrected Life
April 12, 2020 Easter Sunday: The Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, grant me a more profound hope in your powerful and creative love, a hope that never gives up or is overcome, so that I may always acknowledge your grace at work for good in all circumstances.
1. Making Sense of Confusion: No one saw it happen. Yet, the Resurrection of Jesus, in the words of Pope Benedict, is “a cosmic event linking heaven and earth.” Contrast the silence of the empty tomb on that early spring morning with the chaos experienced by the people who encountered it. Some would recall Jesus mentioning he would rise from death and wonder. Others would feel disheartened, let down, or just lost by the apparent absence of Jesus. Neither Mary Magdalene nor the two apostles came to believe in the Resurrection without first experiencing confusion and uncertainty. Their running to and from the tomb suggested their inner turmoil. We learn from them that amidst the chaos in our lives we need to keep seeking Christ and await clarity.
2. Thankful Hope: The empty tomb can only mean that Jesus is truly alive. The empty tomb speaks to the truth that nothing is final in this life. Jesus has kept his promise, showing us that God’s love is stronger than any human power, violence, or cruelty. This understanding came slowly for Peter. We also saw Mary and the other apostles struggling to fully realize that Jesus’s promise to be raised on the third day was real. Gradually joy would come to them, and a strengthened faith would turn into thanksgiving. The truth of the Resurrection is realized by each of us in God’s time according to his plan. As we look into the empty tomb this morning, no matter what our vantage point, let’s allow our faith to express thanksgiving and hope in the Lord. He is making all things new even when we can’t see it.
3. Witnesses of the Resurrection: Jesus’s Resurrection is an everlasting sign of hope that gives us meaning and shapes how we live out our Christian lives. We are witnesses to the Resurrection of Christ “when his light illuminates the dark moments of our existence, and we are able to share it with others; when we know when to smile with those who smile and weep with those who weep; when we accompany those who are sad and at risk of losing hope; when we recount our experience of faith to those who are searching for meaning and happiness…and there–with our attitude, with our witness, with our life–we say ‘Jesus is Risen,’ with our soul” (Pope Francis, Easter message for 2019). Where is the Lord inviting you to see the signs of the Resurrection at work in your life?
Conversing with Christ: Although no one saw the marvel of the Father’s power to raise the Lord from the dead, everyone is subject to its impact. Mary and the apostles each arrived at the empty tomb with their dazed and troubled hearts. They saw, they believed, and they were transformed into courageous, joyous apostles, spreading the news of your Resurrection far and wide. Help me to see, believe, and share the Good News as well!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will spend a moment praying about who in my life I need to reach out to and offer encouragement. With whom you are calling me to share the joy of your Resurrection?