Homily for Easter Sunday 2004 - 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:
 
 
"As yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead."
 
The disciples of the Lord, these men and women who had followed Jesus during his public life and who had been present at his Passion and his Death on the Cross didn't expect that Christ would return from the dead. For, before it happened, could they have imagined that a man like Jesus could return to life, to live for eternity? Could the disciples of Jesus think that, one day, death would be defeated? Yes and no. There was in fact only one disciple of the Lord who firmly believed it: it was Mary, the Mother of Jesus. All the others had only a vague idea of this truth. Faith in the resurrection was for them but a mere glimmer in their soul, not strong and powerful enough to lead them to heroism. Mary alone believed it, and it is because she believed it so strongly that she was present at all the difficult moments through which her divine Son had to pass, including the Cross of Calvary.
 
"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. »"
 
The first reaction of Mary Magdalene, when she saw that the body of Jesus was no longer in the tomb, was to run to Simon Peter to tell him this news. The evangelist doesn't say whether or not Mary Magdalene believed in the Resurrection of Jesus. But why would she run to Simon Peter if not because she believed that an important event, primordial for the community of the disciples, had just happened? Peter is not the person responsible for watching over the tomb of Jesus: that belonged to Pilate and the Jews in his service (cf. Mt. 27:62-66). Peter is the person responsible for the community of the believers. If therefore an event occurs that is important for the believers in Jesus, it is to Peter above all that it is necessary to speak of it. That's why, as soon as she saw that the body of Jesus was no longer in the tomb, Mary Magdalene went to Peter and related to him all that she saw. Mary Magdalene believed in the Resurrection of Jesus: all her faith can be seen in how she approached Simon Peter!
 
"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."
 
Here again, the evangelist doesn't say if Peter believed in the Resurrection of Jesus. But was it necessary to say it? Why is Simon called Peter, if not because he is the guarantor of the faith of the Church? Yes! Peter believed in the Resurrection of Christ. He said it once for all: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" (Mt. 16:16) On that solemn day, Peter proclaimed forever his faith in the Son of the living God. But his faith, because it is that of the Head of the Church, must, in some way, materialize in the events of the life of mystical Body of Christ: Peter and the Church are one, because those who believe in Christ, Son of God, are all "living stones" (1 Peter 2:4). So Peter proclaims his faith by going to the tomb, and seeing with his own eyes the linens arranged in an orderly fashion, an obvious sign of the action of God who disposes all things with wisdom and care. Peter sees, and, in his vision, his faith is made concrete and perfected! Peter believes in the Resurrection of Christ, because the beauty and the order that presides over this extraordinary event makes him see the splendor of he who was resurrected!
 
"Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed."
 
Saint John enters the tomb, following Peter. He also believes, and he says so. For he writes this gospel, and, in writing it, he testifies to his faith. How could he write without believing in what the Holy Spirit says to him? What he writes, he does so in faith and through faith in the risen Christ: his testimony confirms all that the Tradition of the Church has taught since its foundation. Saint John confirms what Saint Peter accomplished in act by his words: "He saw and believed." Once again, the order of the things in the tomb shows the harmony of divine action! The Resurrection of Christ already announces the final Resurrection that will re-establish the order in all things!
 
Let us receive communion in this spirit on this day, blessed above all others! Let us also believe in the risen Jesus! May eternal life, through Mary, be given to us forever!
 

To order the weekly homily immediately, click here