Homily for Easter Sunday 2000 - Year B - Jn. 20:1-9


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.' Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead."





Homily:


"Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb."


Christ is risen! For centuries, every year, Christians proclaim the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus! And so this year, once again, we proclaim and announce to the whole world: Christ is risen!


If we do this, it is because our faith teaches us that Jesus of Nazareth, who was born two thousand years ago, died and was resurrected in the Holy Spirit for the glory of the almighty Father. From century to century, year to year, the event of the Resurrection of the Savior was perpetuated by the memory of the Church, by the memory of all those who preceded us in the faith. From the Apostles to us, an uninterrupted chain of men and women served as a means through which was transmitted to us this truth of our faith: Christ is risen!


The first link of this human chain, the first person who precedes us all in faith in the risen Jesus, is of course Mary, the Mother of Jesus. In middle of the night, as soon as he was resurrected, Jesus hastened to go visit his Mother in order to express to her all his affection and to console her for the supreme trial she had had to undergo at the foot of the Cross of Calvary. It was precisely by the memory of the Church that this visit of Jesus to his Mother was passed down to us, all the way to our time.


If Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is truly the first link of the human chain, then it is clear that all the other links, all the men and women who proclaimed the risen Jesus during their life, are now in the glory of God, with Mary, their Mother, and the Mother of us all. To proclaim the risen Jesus is to work towards the salvation of one's soul: "Man confesses with his lips and so is saved." (Rm. 10:10) We too, we Christians of the year 2000, let us work for our salvation, let us proclaim with firmness and courage: Christ is risen!


"So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.' Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb."


When Mary Magdalene first realizes that the body of Jesus has disappeared, she does not yet quite know what happened. But her female intuition tells her that something very important has just taken place. She goes at once to tell Peter and the other Apostles who are gathered together in the Cenacle. Without any doubt, the Holy Spirit, who guides the memory of the Church, comes to her aid, for the mission she must carry out is a great one. Above all, it is the faith of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, which accompanies her on her way. For the faith of Mary is an all-powerful one, without stain, "an undefiled faith." (Council of Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium ", no. 63) It is from the faith of Mary, the first link in the chain of believers, that Mary Magdalene gains support, without even knowing it, just as we, today, gain support from the faith of all those who precede us but whom we do not know. By hearing the words of Mary Magdalene, touched by their power, which is the very power of the faith of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Peter and John leave the Cenacle at once and go in haste to the tomb.


"They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed."


After Mary the Mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, also believes, and writes: "He saw and believed." The Body of the Church who believes in the Resurrection of Christ is now complete. Mary, Mary Magdalene, and John indeed constitute a complete body: there is Mary, who is Mediatrix, and the two members whom she unites with each other through her mediation, namely Mary Magdalene and John. The latter two belong, respectively, to the learning Church and to the teaching Church. So now there is but one member missing: the Head of this Mystical Body, or rather, his representative on earth, the Pope. This is why John, in his account, begins by saying that he himself believed in the Resurrection of the Savior. Then, he speaks of Peter and himself, saying: "As yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead."


Strengthened by the faith of Mary, that of Mary Magdalene, and that of John, Peter the Prince of the Apostles believes in the Resurrection of Christ. Why wasn't Peter the first to have believed? Is this a weakness? A punishment for his denial? By no means. This is quite simply the order in which the Lord himself wanted this to happen. Indeed, he who guides the memory of the Church throughout the ages is the Spirit of God who acts everywhere and in everyone. Peter, and his Successor, the Pope, who cannot be everywhere and act in everyone, is there to confirm the action of the Spirit in the Church and in the world: "When you have turned again, strengthen your brethren." (Lk. 22:32)


On this Easter Day 2000, let us ask the Spirit of God, let us ask Mary, let us ask all the saints in heaven and on earth, to make us ardent and faithful apostles of the Resurrection of the Lord! "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20)