Homily for Easter Sunday 2001 - 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."


Jesus is risen! Today, we celebrate the greatest of all the Mysteries of our faith! Today, the Church - and, through her, the entire world - hears this Good News: Christ is risen! The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the Good News that each one of us is called to welcome in the depths of his heart, not just today but every day of his life. For, each day, we are called to be reborn and to live again in the risen Jesus. There is no day that God made in which we do not need the strength and the power of the Resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God made Man. The Resurrection of Christ: this is our strength, this is our succor, now and forever!


Each day brings us its share of uncertainty, fear, and misfortune. Our life is made this way. What can we do? Sin, evil, suffering, and finally, death, belong to our everyday life. We are the descendants of Adam and Eve, who left us a baneful inheritance because the devil had tempted them... But we have become sons and daughters of God, heirs to the Father, in Jesus Christ. Each day, and especially when misfortune strikes, the Spirit of God who lives in our hearts is there to rekindle in us this thought: Jesus, the first-born of a multitude of brothers, is risen! Each day, and even more so today, on the day of Easter, this Good News gives us our strength and joy, for the Glory of the Most Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit!


What gives the Good News of the risen Jesus its force and power is precisely that it is "news", something "new". For, what is new surprises and astonishes us, and "news" draws its force and power from this surprise, this astonishment. Of course, "news" can beget fear, insecurity, and disorder. But the Resurrection of the Lord is "good" news! This "news" brings Peace, Joy, and Happiness! Is this not what Mary Magdalene felt on Easter morning, when she discovered that the tomb had been opened and that the body of Jesus had disappeared? Mary Magdalene was certainly very surprised and astonished by all this, but the Holy Spirit was able to console her and to help her understand, a little, what had taken place...


"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."


Mary Magdalene goes to tell Peter, and also John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. She does not say to them: "Jesus is risen," but rather: "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him!" For, Mary Magdalene, as a cautious woman with a practical mind, keeps her feet firmly on the ground, even though her spirit is already in Heaven; she wants to stick to the "good news" about which she is certain: "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb!" Mary Magdalene had noted and pointed out the "signs of the times": "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb!" At that moment, she had no interest in offering an opinion concerning what she had discovered: to her, what was important was to inform Peter and the Apostles, for it is they whom the Lord Jesus had appointed to continue his mission on earth.


"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."


The spectacle presented to the eyes of Peter and John is stupefying: everything breathes peace, order, and tranquillity. They are completely astonished by this: it is absolutely impossible for someone to have removed the body and left things in that state. Their surprise and astonishment slowly gives way to an intimate and deep conviction: the Master - He whom they had cowardly abandoned, and even denied, as Peter had - yes, the Master is risen, just as he had said! "Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed." The facts speak for themselves, the "signs of the times" leave no room for doubt. Peter and John understood: they are the witnesses of the "Good News"!


"As yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead."


Even if the Apostles had not believed in the Resurrection of the Lord before they had seen the empty tomb and the neatly arranged linen cloths, there was however someone who already did believe: Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Thanks to her pure faith, which was without any spot or defect, Mary was ceaselessly instructed by the Holy Spirit. From the time of the Incarnation, day after day, Mary received from the Spirit of God this "good news", which she was eager to see become a reality, even if it meant she had to undergo the difficult and painful trial of the Cross. So let us ask Mary to help us to receive and understand, to an ever greater degree, this Good News of the Resurrection of the Lord!



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