Readings: Acts 10:34-43; Col. 3:1-4; John 20:1-9
Christ is risen! Alleluia! It was Easter Sunday morning and a man was coming out of the church after the Sunday Mass. The pastor was standing at the door as always shaking hands as people left the church. He grabbed the man by the hand and pulled him aside and said to him, "You need to join the Army of the Lord!" The man replied, "Father I'm already in the Army of the Lord." Then the pastor questioned, "How come I don't see you except at Christmas and Easter?" He whispered back, "Father, I'm in the secret service!” If you are in the secret service, you still need to be nourished and equipped for Christ’s secret service!
Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday are interwoven because what we celebrate on Easter Sunday morning is the mystery proclaimed at the Easter Vigil. It is important therefore to see the two moments as continuous. Easter Vigil recalls and re-enacts the mystery of God's salvation for us in the resurrection of Christ. Easter Sunday not only focuses our attention on recalling the resurrection and its impact on the first disciples, but also on the meaning of this event for our own lives and for our faith. Easter Sunday highlights not only our faith in the resurrection, but also the joyful proclamation and witness of our faith in the Risen Lord.
Proclamation and witness are therefore the two central themes running through Easter Sunday readings. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter speaks about his own experience and shares that experience with the listening crowds. Because of his experience of knowing with utter conviction that Jesus, who died on the Cross, is now alive, Peter is so filled with the joy of it, that he simply must share that same joy with others – so that it may also be theirs. Similarly, Paul’s experience of the resurrection leads him to advice that we keep focused on the risen Lord, since Christ is our life. For Paul, we know that his encounter with the Risen Lord brought a total revolution in his life, and gave him a total new vision of his calling, the meaning of Jesus Christ and his message.
In the Gospel, we have the experience of the empty tomb as a sign that Jesus is risen. He is not there. This first day of the week is full of emotions and commotion. The discovery of the empty tomb by Mary of Magdala leads to her running back to tell Peter and John that the Lord's body is not in the tomb. That experience may have been very disappointing, but it was also a clear message that Christ is risen as he had said. John, who writes the Gospel, tells us that he entered into the empty tomb, “he saw and he believed”. He believed that the Lord is risen indeed. That experience strengthened the faith of the disciples in the resurrection, and completely transformed their lives. Renewed in their conviction, they were moved to witness to the mystery of the resurrection. The message we take home on this Easter day is that Easter is not an event we celebrate annually to remember the resurrection of Christ. Rather Easter is an encounter with the risen Lord that transforms us so deeply that we cannot be the same again. Easter is a way of life in which we live as “an Easter people” without fear. May the risen Lord give us the grace and the courage to live as people deeply touched by our faith in the resurrection, and proclaim that “Christ in risen indeed, alleluia.”
©2017 John S. Mbinda