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The Easter of Resurrection

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First Reading

Acts 10, 34.37-43

Then Peter addressed them, 'I now really understand', he said, 'that God has no favourites,
You know what happened all over Judaea, how Jesus of Nazareth began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism.
God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.
Now we are witnesses to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judaea and in Jerusalem itself: and they killed him by hanging him on a tree,
yet on the third day God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen,
not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses that God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses -- we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead-
and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to bear witness that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead.
It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.'




Psalm 117


Eternal is the mercy of the Lord.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love endures for ever.

Let the sons of Israel say :
'His love endures for ever.'

Let the sons of Aaron say :
'His love endures for ever.'

Let those who fear the Lord say :
'His love endures for ever.'

I called the Lord in my distress;
he answered and feed me.

The Lord is at my side; I do not fear.
What can man do against m?

The Lord is at my side as my helper:
I shall look down on my foes.

It is better to take refuge in the lord
than to trust in men:

It is better to take refuge in the lord
than to trust in prices.

The nations all encompassed me;
in the lord's name I crushed them.

They compassed me, compassed me about;
in the Lord's name I crushed them.

They compassed me about like bees;
they blazed like a fire among thorns.
In the Lord's name I crushed them.

I was thrust down, thrust down and falling
but the Lord was my helper.

The Lord is my strength and my song;
he was my saviour.

There are shouts of joy and victory
in the tents of the just.

The Lord's right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me.

The Lord's right hand had triumphed;
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deed.

I was punished, I was punished by the Lord,
but not doomed to die.

Open to me the gates of holiness :
I will enter and give thanks.

This is the Lord's own gates
where the just may enter.

I will thank you for you have answered
and you are my saviour.

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.

This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.

This day was made by the Lord;
we rejoice and are glad.

O Lord, grant us salvation;
O Lord, grant success.

Blessed in the name of the Lord
is he who comes

We bless you from the house of the Lord;
the Lord God is our light.

Go forward in procession with branches
even to the altar.

You are my God, I thank you.
My God, I praise you.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good;
for his love endures forever.

Second Reading

Colossians 3, 1-4

Since you have been raised up to be with Christ, you must look for the things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at God's right hand.
Let your thoughts be on things above, not on the things that are on the earth,
because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God.
But when Christ is revealed -- and he is your life-you, too, will be revealed with him in glory.

Reading of the Gospel

John 20, 1-9

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb
and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,' she said, 'and we don't know where they have put him.'
So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb.
They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in.
Simon Peter, following him, also came up, went into the tomb, saw the linen cloths lying on the ground
and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.
Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed.
Till this moment they had still not understood the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.




"It was still dark" (Jn20v1NJB) when Mary of Magdala took herself off to the sepulchre. It was dark outside but, most of all, dark in that woman's heart (as in the hearts of all the others who loved the prophet who "had done all things well" (cf.Mark7v37NJB). The darkness was for the loss of the one person who has understood her: not only had He told her what was in her heart, best of all He had freed her from what was oppressing her most of all. Luke (8v2) writes that she had been set free from seven demons. Mary went to the sepulchre with a sorrowing heart. Perhaps she was remembering the days before His passion, when she was washing His feet after bathing Him in precious ointment, and also those few but intense years that she had spent with that prophet. Friendship with Jesus is all consuming; one might put it that this man could not be followed from afar, as Peter recently had done. The moment to settle accounts arrives and therefore the moment to make a definitive relationship. The friendship of Jesus is of the sort that leads us to consider others more than ourselves, "No-one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John15v13NRSV). Mary Magdalene (notices no-one) realizes it once more that morning while it is still dark. Her friend is dead, because He loved her and all the disciples, including Judas. As soon as she reaches the sepulchre, she sees that the stone placed at the entrance, a heavy slab like a symbol of every death and every separation, has been tipped away. She does not even go in. She runs straight to Peter and John, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb", she cries breathlessly. She thinks that not even in death do people want Him. She adds in sorrow: "We don't know where they have put him". Mary's sorrow at the loss of the Lord, even of His dead body, is a slap in the face to our coldness and our forgetfulness of Jesus even when alive. Today, this woman is a great example to all believers. Only with her tenderness in our hearts can we meet the Risen Lord. It is she in desperation to move Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved. They run immediately to the empty sepulchre; having started out together following the Lord during His passion - although at a distance(Jn18vv15-16) -, they now find themselves "running together"(v5NRSV) so as not to be away from Him. This running expresses very well the anxiety inside every disciple, - I would say in every community - which is seeking the Lord. Perhaps we too should start to run again. Our pace has become too slow, maybe weighted down by self-love, by fear of slipping, of losing something of ours, from fear of having to give up habits that have become ingrained. We need to try to run again, to leave that upper room with closed doors and to move towards the Lord. Easter is also a time to hurry. The beloved disciple arrived first at the tomb: love makes him run faster. But the slower pace of Peter brought him also to the threshold of the tomb; and they both went in. Peter went first and he saw things in perfect order; the cloths were in their place as if emptied of Jesus’ body and the head-cloth "rolled up in a place by itself"(v7). There had been no man-handling nor body-snatching: it was as if Jesus had got free on His own. There was no need to loosen his cloths, as it had been for Lazarus. The other disciple also entered and "saw" the same scene, "He saw and he believed" (v8NJB), remarks the Evangelist. They had found themselves face to face with the signs of the resurrection and their hearts were moved. "Till this moment" - continues the Evangelist - "they had still not understood the scripture, that he must rise from the dead" (v9NJB). It is often like that in our lives: lives without resurrection, without Easter, acquiescent in the face of the great pains and dramas of the human race, shut up in the sadness of our own habits. Easter has come, the heavy stone has been knocked away and the sepulchre is open. The Lord has conquered death and is alive for evermore. We cannot stay closed up as if the Gospel of the resurrection had not be passed on to us. The Gospel is resurrection, it is reborn to new life. It must be shouted from the housetops, it must be communicated to the hearts of others so that they may be open to the Lord.

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