He is risen! Alleluia!!!!!! He is alive! He is in our lives, every single day, not as some far off being or puppet master. He is our Lord. Our Lord who has never left us alone. He has not hidden from us but rather stands with us each day, calling us to live with Him. So now it is time to do His work! More Jesus in our lives and less of our own personal desires!
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What could possibly be more absurd than placing a guard at a dead man’s grave? Could the dead really walk? Could they speak? They already declared this Jesus was nothing more than a man and they saw Him die. Why all the worry?
The only people at the foot of the cross who were close to Him were His mother, two other women, and John. All of His other close friends had deserted him. So what exactly could three women and one man really accomplish? Could they really pull off a feat so incredible as to completely make the body of Jesus disappear without a single word being known of their deception?
And where are His friends? Where were they? Those who put Jesus to death already knew the followers of Jesus would run as soon as things got tough. Maybe, just maybe, those who put Jesus to death believed He could rise more than the Apostles believed.
The Jewish leaders must have thought: What if He really could do what He said He would do? Everything would change. Power lost. Prestige gone. Place in society dismissed. Everything is questioned. Those who had all of the answers no longer have any of the answers. Hence, the posting of the guard.
Jesus had told His followers that He would die and rise. And yet, what was it that Mary Magdalene and the other women brought to the tomb…perfume…because they expected to see a dead body and not a risen Lord.
After the women were at the tomb, they ran to Peter and John and told them the body of Jesus had been taken. They did not tell Peter and John that Jesus had risen, either because they, as women of the time, could not witness to events and declare such a happening or they simply did not believe. Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves that His body was gone. They did not declare the fulfillment of Jesus’ words that He would rise, they too believed Him dead.
Peter and John get to the tomb, saw the stone had been moved, and again, they did not declare Him risen. No, they had to enter the tomb and see for their own eyes declare not that He had risen, but that His body was gone. There is a monumental difference in those declarations. The Gospel story for today clearly is not the culmination, it is the beginning, the most incredible beginning that began with an empty tomb...
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Yes! Easter is the beginning! He is risen! Hope is no longer on the horizon, it is here! These days of pandemic necessitate our grasping of the elements of hope. As we look at the vaccines becoming more available, we can see the possibility that the pandemic is getting under control and our lives can return to what they were…well maybe…but things have changed…maybe forever.
Think back to a year ago at this time. Everything was shuttered, we were staying home, no Mass, no Eucharist. In just a matter of a few weeks, our lives were changed, and we really had no idea what was coming next. As Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter and John stood at the tomb they must have wondered what was coming next. An empty tomb. Why? Where is He? What does this mean for us?
Just days before, the disciples of Jesus had a hope that looked very different from where it was at that moment. Everything they were hoping was crushed in a series of evil actions and a death on a cross. Evil had apparently won. But alas! Evil will never win. In the end, the Truth is always known and Jesus is the Truth.
Easter brings that one single solitary thing that can always be consistently counted on…the love of God. Even evil could not defeat our God. Evil had its hour as Jesus was handed over by Judas, however, God is eternity and not just an hour.
Chaos has a cost and is a prized tool of Satan. It is Jesus who takes the chaos, confusion and questions and makes all things new - forever. In Isaiah 43, Revelations 21, Isaiah 65, Ephesians 2, Ephesians 4, Hebrews 8….we are constantly told that He will make all things new. How God accomplishes those things will always require sacrifice – God will make order out of chaos because all things must move toward the Truth. Beyond the cross is the BOOM of the resurrection!
Understanding the Resurrection came with time. The Apostles and 500 others would experience Jesus after His rising. It is how we understand what it means to love God with our entire being and love others as ourselves. Experience Jesus.
Theme in Our Life
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Jesus lives! Isn’t that incredible? We get to experience Jesus daily in the Eucharist. Do you sometimes take that experience for granted? At the Easter Vigil we celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. All things that make us new! Isn’t that great! I love new! And in each of these Sacraments evil is defeated and we are made new. Sin is forgiven, the Holy Spirit invigorates and refreshes our very being, and Jesus becomes a part of us.
The greatest thing we can ever accomplish in our lives is to bring the Sacraments to others. Nothing you can ever hope to accomplish will ever be greater. The celebration of each Sacrament is an experience of our relationship with God. It is tremendous that we have a God who loves us so much that He calls us again and again and again in the Sacraments. That’s exciting!
In our Easter reading from Acts, Peter goes to instruct Cornelius, the friends of Cornelius and Cornelius’ family about what they already know, about all that had happened around Judea from the baptism of Jesus to Jesus’ death and rising. Wait…they already know…then why is Peter instructing them? Because Peter brings them an experience of Jesus.
It is significant that Peter is preaching to non-Jews. The vision Peter had, and is described just before he visits Cornelius, instructs him that all things created good by God are to be treasured, so too, Jesus came for all people and they ought to be treasured.
In Colossians, Paul is instructing a people who had looked to Jesus in terms of how He fit into the universe. The Colossians were caught up in explaining this world, they stressed angels, principalities or astral powers and cultic practices that miss the mark in understanding who Jesus is, and that detract from the person and work of Christ.
Paul gives them instruction and an experience of Jesus. Our Sacraments help us do the same. They help us understand who and what is permanent. Keeping Easter in our lives is so very special when we see Easter in our Sacraments.
Preparing for Sunday
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To Prepare for this Sunday’s Liturgy of the Word, consider the following:
If you were the one to find the empty tomb, what would you tell Peter and John?
Is my Catholic faith something that defines who I am or is it really just something I do?
Do you study your Catholic faith to understand the daily significance in our lives of the empty tomb?