Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
c. 33 A.D.
Liturgical Color: White
If you want to discover what’s really going on in a story, follow the women. Curious about how the plot of a book, movie, or show is going to resolve itself? Follow the female characters, because the men…and the rest of the story…will soon catch up with them. It is a female disciple, Mary Magdalen, who takes our hand and walks us quickly onto the stage of Easter Sunday. Mary doesn’t go to the tomb on Saturday, because no work can be done on the Sabbath. So early Sunday, while it is still dark, Mary walks alone to the burial garden and sees something, or, more precisely, doesn’t see something, that changes world history. The dead body of Jesus is not on the slab! The stone is rolled away! The tomb is empty! Mary Magdalen is witness one, the first of billions to know that Jesus rose from the dead. Witness one then quickly runs to tell the good news to witnesses two and three, the Apostles Peter and John. Thus the first links in the endless chain of believers were forged, a strong, enduring chain that has wended its way through history until today.
Relegating Jesus’ miracles to the bin of apocryphal but consoling stories, many moderns argue Christ’s most enduring legacy is the verifiable good He did for His fellow men. Yet the Gospels don’t tell us that Jesus went around doing good. They tell us He went around doing miracles. Jesus doesn’t help an old woman carry a load up a hill. He doesn’t dig His hand deep into His pocket and spare some change. Jesus doesn’t offer words of comfort to the sick; He heals the sick. Jesus doesn’t jump into the sea to save the drowning Peter; He walks on the water. Jesus didn’t volunteer in a soup kitchen; He miraculously multiplied bread and fish and distributed food to the masses. And Jesus didn’t save people from the danger of death; He raised them from the dead. Jesus temporarily resuscitated three people, all of whom later died, before He resurrected Himself forever. There was nothing dreamy about the Resurrection. Real people with real names in a real place saw the Resurrected Jesus with real eyes. Easter celebrates the miracle of all miracles, the greatest unexpected result of all time, the indispensable genesis event of Western Civilization.
So today we raise a toast to a fresh spring morning two thousand years ago. In a garden moist with dew, with small birds chirping and flowers’ bending toward the dawning sun, in a small, darkened hollow cut into the rock, a dead man, icy cold to the touch, zapped to life. He achingly rose from His stone slab and walked slowly toward the low entrance. He rolled away a heavy stone and stepped out into a new world where death was no longer the master. The ageless, see-saw battle between life and death was resolved in favor of the more powerful. Checkmate! The mind wanders at the beauty of it all.
The story is told of the conception of twins. In their first weeks of life they stretch and groan and grow. They are happy to be alive, to be together. They squirm and jostle and explore their cramped watery world. They are curious. They see a life cord tethering them to someone greater and are overjoyed. “How great is our mother’s love that she shares her life with us.” Weeks turn into months in their warm amniotic bath. The twins shift and change. “What does this mean?” Twin One asks. “It means that our life in the womb is ending,” Twin Two responds. “But I don’t want to leave the womb! I am happy here. I want to stay here forever, close to our mother!” “But we have no choice,” Twin Two responds again. “Besides, maybe…just maybe, there is life after birth.” Twin One: “But how can that be? The sac will break, the cord will be severed, and we’ll be cut off from our source of life. And besides, there’s evidence that others were here before us, and none has ever come back to tell us that there is life after birth. No, this is the end.” Twin Two begins to despair, “If life in the womb ends in death, what’s its purpose? It’s meaningless! Maybe…maybe we don’t even have a mother…maybe we just made her up.” Twin One: “But we must have a mother. How else did we get here? How else do we stay alive?”
And so the last days in the womb were filled with questioning and deep fear about the future. The moment of birth came at an hour they did not expect. The twins were emotional, wondering about the unknown, uncertain if they would ever see each other, or their mother, again. The transition was painful. They struggled. They heard screams. All that they knew disappeared. And then… light! Shocking bright whiteness. Their eyelids slowly peeled from their skin, and they gazed in confused wonder at a new world around them. Their life-source, their great mother, wept when they were placed in her arms. They could feel her love radiating through them. The twins were in an unknown world that calmed every fear, that exceeded their wildest dreams. Their eyes had not seen and their ears had not heard anything like this before. Their end was just their beginning. They were overcome and could do only one thing—cry out for joy.
Risen Lord, strengthen our faith so that we overcome all doubt, and place our trust in Your gift of life beyond the grave. May Your resurrection from the dead inflame in us an ardent desire to be holy in this life so that we can live with You, Mary, and all the saints in the next.
Rosary – Glorious Mysteries (with Scripture)
Novena in preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday (Third-ninth day of novena)
Other Prayers for the Octave of Easter: