Sunday Scripture readings, April 4, 2021: Easter Sunday
1) Acts 10:34a, 37-43 Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
2) Col 3:1-4 Gospel: Jn 20:1-9
The resurrection of Jesus presents us with a radical choice
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Easter Sunday, the holiest Sunday of the liturgical calendar, transforms human history as God raises Jesus from the dead. Jesus pours divine love on the world by embracing his suffering and death on the cross. He shows us that God is not an all-powerful, distant and heartless being.
Rather, the God of Christianity suffers with and for each one of us. And into the thick of humanity’s sin, suffering and death, God speaks a definitive word — the way of suffering is the way of love, and the way of love is stronger than death.
As World War II raged across Europe, the people of London struggled under heavy bombardment from the Nazis. To save the nation’s artistic treasures, the entire collection of the National Gallery of London was moved to a temporary location in Wales.
As Kenneth Clark, the museum director recounts, it was decided to return one painting each month to public display so Londoners could find common solace during the wartime destruction of life and their city. From a public survey, the people’s request was for a painting of Easter Sunday morning.
It is the scene described in today’s Gospel when Mary Magdalene discovers the empty tomb of Jesus and becomes the “apostle to the apostles,” the first to announce the resurrection of Jesus to the disciples. And so “Noli Me Tangere,” a 16th-century masterpiece by the Renaissance artist, Titian, became the first painting of the month, in a tradition that lasted through the war.
As the people suffered the loss of loved ones and the ruthless destruction of peace, the image of the resurrected Jesus brought consolation and hope.
In the harsh, disorienting and challenging days of a global pandemic, we need to hear and to live the message of Easter Sunday, now more than ever.
For the resurrection of Jesus presents us with a radical choice — to live daily in the power of God’s love that is stronger than the cruel, enslaving effects of sin and death. Or to live in the indifference, fear and hopelessness offered by a world opposed to God.
Peter’s proclamation of the Gospel message in the first reading sums up this radical choice of Easter Sunday. And St. Paul brings the message of Easter close to our hearts and our lives when he writes, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.”
Easter Sunday cannot be reduced to a distant event from 2,000 years ago. The power of Jesus’ resurrection at Easter is offered to you and to me as the pattern of our lives today. As we enter into the mystery of Jesus’ suffering and death, we are reborn to new life in Jesus.
His resurrection is the only cause of joy and hope in a world of pain, betrayal, violence and suffering. Our dying and rising to this new divine life of hope and peace is made possible in the love of God revealed in the death and glorious resurrection of Jesus.
So we join the psalmist in singing loudly, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” For today, Jesus’ resurrection to new life is offered to you and to me as the pattern of our daily life.
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
How does Jesus’ resurrection restore new life in you this Easter Sunday?
Sullivan is a professor at The Catholic University of America.