Easter Sunday, March 23, 2008

Acts 10: 34A, 37 - 43

Colossians 3: 1 - 4

John 20: 1 - 9

Word of Explanation:
The Gospels tell us that the Resurrection took place on the third day before sunrise. The day of the Resurrection is also the first day of the week, our Sunday. Genesis I tells us, moreover, that God created light on the first day of the week. The Gospels thus underline the fact that the light God created on the first day of our world, rises from the tomb when Jesus rises from the dead. The day of the Resurrection is the first day of the first week of our world saved by Jesus Christ, the first day of the new creation. It is the reason why we can sing with the thanksgiving of the Psalmist : This is the day that the Lord has made, a day of joy. Alleluia!

The Gospels recount that the women went to the tomb on the first day of the week, and found it empty... They find the stone rolled back - and no body! No Gospel describes the Resurrection event. They speak rather of experiences when men and women who had followed Jesus discovered that the story had not ended when the tomb where the Crucified was buried, was sealed. The body was no longer in the tomb: in Johns Gospel, it is the absence of the body which the beloved disciple sees and on which he founds his faith. In Mark, the divine messenger uses the absence to rouse the faith of the women: He is risen; he is not here.

Mark tells us that Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, had followed Jesus right up until the last moment. They were present at the burial (15:27). They replaced, as it were, the disciples who had fled when Jesus was arrested (14, 50). And, then, they go to the tomb to embalm the body. They are wondering how they can remove the stone that seals the tomb: for them, the tomb has to be opened, not to awaken and free a dead man, but to embalm a corpse. And they find the tomb already open and empty...The tomb is no longer closed on death but open to life. But they dont understand. Then a young man clothed in a white robe tells them that the one they came to embalm is no longer there. The proof is the absence of the body...There is neither apparition nor burial cloths...just someone missing - the absence of the body of the one they came to honor. They are invited to base their faith in the resurrection of Jesus on this absence, and be able to proclaim the good news to the disciples.

But these women arent going to proclaim any good news because they are afraid... Thus the Gospel according to Mark (16, 8) ends. Two hypotheses support this reading: two important manuscripts dont include verses 9-20; there is also a break between verse 9 and what comes before, the number of people present changes from three to one without any apparent reason. We are before Mary Magdalene alone. These verses, moreover, are unlike the rest of the Gospel in both style and vocabulary. They are like a resum of all the apparitions recounted in the other Gospels (See John 20, 1ss ; Luke 24, 13-35 ; Matthew 28, 16-20). Strange paradox that makes the Gospel finish with the flight of the disciples and the fearful silence of the women !

But the story is not somber: He has risen, he is no longer here, says the young man in white. And we have to admit that the Good News has come down to us through history till today! The Risen One goes before them into Galilee and awaits the disciples. He goes before us and also looks for us in the humdrum of our daily activities. Galilee sends us back to the beginning of the Gospel where everything began for the disciples. Its there that they have to begin again. Begin to walk, preach, heal...

For us the invitation is to begin to read the Gospel again and to read the signs of the times in the light of the empty tomb. .. It is to faith in his invisible but active presence that we are called.

Lord, the good news that Mark proclaims is that each of us is invited to meet the Risen Jesus, there where he reveals himself, on the road of our daily existence. Increase our faith in your discreet but loving presence in our history.

Sr. Sophie Ramond, R.A.