Homily for Easter Sunday 2006 - Jn. 20:1-9


by

Canon Dr. 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."


Among the Jews, the day of rest, the day that commemorates the Lord's rest after the Creation, is the Sabbath, that is to say our Saturday. But ever since the Resurrection of the Lord, which we celebrate today, the day of rest of all Christians is Sunday, the day after Saturday, or " the first day of the week." Thus, Sunday commemorates the rest of the Lord: no longer that which followed the Creation, but rather the rest of the Lord after the New Creation, the Creation that has been renewed and fully restored in Christ, true God and true Man.


On this Sunday of the Resurrection, which is the Sunday par excellence, that which will set its imprint and its character upon all the Sundays of the year, we commemorate the rest of the Lord, not only that of his soul, but also, and much more so, that of his body. On this Sunday, we particularly honor the body of the Lord, that body which endured so many torments during the Passion and which is now glorious, resplendent in glory!


" 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.' "


It was a woman, Mary Magdalene, who was the first to announce the Resurrection of the Lord to the Apostles. This fact was always been highlighted by commentators on the Gospel of the Resurrection. Moreover, it is not unrelated to this other fact: Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is the one who precedes us on the pilgrimage of faith, being the first and the model of all those who believe in Christ the Mediator and Redeemer. Just as Mary is the mediatrix or the intermediary between Christ and the Church, Mary Magdalene was the intermediary or messenger who announced to the Apostles that something mysterious had happened at the tomb: the body of the Lord had disappeared!


" Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb."


Peter and John arrive at the tomb. They do not yet believe in the Resurrection of the Lord, but they already believe what Mary Magdalene had told them: they already have a simply human and natural faith, a faith that will gradually lead them to supernatural and divine faith, to the extraordinary fact that is the Resurrection of the Lord. But Peter, although he arrives at the tomb after John, is nonetheless the first to enter. Saint John acknowledges the primacy of Peter; he knows that the Lord instituted him the foundation of the entire Church, the one upon whom everything rests, he to whom Christ entrusted all. Peter is he whom the Church follows, he who guides and leads all others.


" 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."


What does Peter do? He sees; he sees everything that is in the tomb. What is important is that Peter looks, because it is this that will lead him to faith in the Resurrection of Christ. He sees that the linen wrappings are there, that none of them are missing, but above all he sees that everything is in order, in perfect order, an order that reflects the action of God in this surprising and absolutely unprecedented act: the Resurrection of a man by his own power, the resurrection of the Man-God.


Indeed, God is in perfect harmony and order within himself: there is not the least imperfection in God. And God has placed this order into the universe that he created in his love. The order of God is present in all of Creation. Therefore it is even more perfectly present in this new creation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ. Peter saw this order: he understood, and he believed! Moreover, Saint John concludes his discourse with the following words, which refer to both of the disciples: " For as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead", which means that they now understood what Holy Scripture had announced.


May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who never stopped believing that her Son would be resurrected from the dead, help us on this day! May this Sunday Eucharistic celebration, as well as all the others throughout the year, truly be the privileged moment of all our life, the moment when we love to rest in God, through prayer and the reception of this very great sacrament!




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