Homily for Easter Sunday - Year A - Jn. 20:1-9
 
 
by
 
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 
 
" 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 understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. "

 
Homily:
 
 
" 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.» "
 
Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb early in the morning, the day following the Sabbath of the Jews, the day that is now called "Sunday," or the Day of the Lord.  It is not without reason that Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb:  she knows very well what had happened on the day before the Sabbath, since she had been at the foot of the cross of Jesus, along with Mary, the Mother of the Savior, and Saint John, the disciple whom Jesus loved.  "Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene." (John 19:25)
 
If Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, it was to bring spices (cf. Mark 16:1), in order to honor in this way the body of the Savior that she saw dying on the cross of Calvary.  Early in the morning, Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb to pay her last respects to the body that had housed such a tender and persuasive word, one that she had so often heard come forth from the lips of the Master of Life!  This word had become her own life:  her duty was to honor it through all means and at all costs.  Mary Magdalene knew, moreover, that a great obstacle would stand before her, since she asked herself, along with her companions:  "Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?" (Mark 16:3)
 
When Mary Magdalene arrives at the tomb, she sees that the stone has been removed!  "She saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb."  Still in love with the body she wants to honor so greatly with the perfumes she brought, Mary Magdalene goes to warn Peter, and John as well, for she knows that it is they who will be able to set her on the path leading to the recovery of the missing body.  "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. "
 
When Peter and John go to the tomb, Mary Magdalene accompanies them:  for her, it is necessary to follow the two disciples of the Lord, because it is they who will set her on the track to recover the Savior's body!  So, the disciples arrive at the tomb, and they see that everything is in order:  Peter "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 Lord's body is no longer there, but another body, of a different kind, is visible:  it consists of all of the linen cloths that were wrapped around the very body of the Savior.  It is a body of another kind, for it is a sign:  a sign saying that the Lord Jesus is risen!  Ordinarily, a sign must be interpreted.  But the sign we are dealing with here must be believed, for it is a sign of Savior's body.  Christ, in fact, was similar to other men according to the external aspect of his body:  it was absolutely necessary to believe that this body housed in itself the Word of God!
 
" Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;  for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. "
 
Jesus is risen!  Saint John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, enters the tomb, and what he sees leads him to believe in the resurrection of the Savior.  There is no doubt that Peter was the first to believe, but he probably kept all of this in his heart, just as Mary, the Mother of Jesus, did at the time of the birth of her divine Son (cf. Luke 2:19).  In any case, it was not the Scriptures that convinced the disciples of the resurrection of the Savior:  "As yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead."  It was necessary for them to witness a material, bodily, and very tangible event for them to finally believe in what the Scripture had announced.
 
By his resurrection from the dead, the Lord Jesus forever became the Master of the whole Universe, spiritual and corporeal.  Henceforth, every created being must pay homage to its Creator:  this is what Peter and John experienced when they entered the tomb of their Savior and Master!  They then reached the fullness of the faith in the Son of God, the faith of which the Roman centurion present at the death of the Savior received the beginnings, saying:  "Truly this man was the Son of God!" (Mark 15:39)
 

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