Christ has risen! He has risen indeed!
What a joyful, humanity-changing and life-altering message was announced on that first Easter morning and repeated countless times over the past 2,000 years. Jesus Christ, reviled and scorned, crucified and buried, has risen to new life. He has conquered evil and hatred, sin and death and bridged the chasm, created by sin, between God and humanity. The ancient Easter Sequence proclaims it well: “Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.”
I invite you to reflect upon three details contained in John’s Gospel account of the first Easter: darkness, looking and running. While many years have passed since those first disciples of Jesus came to understand and believe in His resurrection, their understanding and belief are not unlike our own.
Let us begin with darkness. In John’s Gospel account of Easter we hear of how “Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark” (Jn 20:1). While the physical darkness Mary experienced was certainly due in no small part to her making her way to the tomb before the sun had risen in the eastern sky, it is also an apt description of the heaviness of her heart and her not yet seeing with the eyes of faith what had truly taken place—that Jesus had risen to new life. It is the darkness of sorrow and suffering, of anxiety and fear. It is the darkness of innocent people being killed as nations wage war on other nations, of women and children being exploited, of laws promoting suicide being passed or innocent lives of the unborn being taken. It is the darkness we experience in our personal lives when illness befalls us or a loved one suffers.
As we continue to read John’s Gospel, we find that the darkness enveloping Mary’s heart starts to lift when “as she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb” (Jn 20:11). Just a few verses earlier, we heard how the beloved disciple had also looked into the tomb, “saw and believed” (Jn 20:8). It was at the empty tomb, the place where Jesus’ earthly body had been lain, that they saw the burial clothes rolled up and heard the voice of an angel. It was at the empty tomb where Mary and Peter came to understand the conquering love of God. It is a reminder to us of how we too, having just commemorated on Good Friday Jesus death on the cross, are called to look and see God’s transforming and unconditional love of Jesus risen to new life. It is a reminder to us that something far greater than an empty tomb or burial clothes is given to us to help us see and know God’s love: the Sacraments of the Church and the life of the Church. As we come to Church and enter, through the Sacraments, into the life of Christ, may we truly see and live the new life of Jesus Christ.
And lastly, we come to a final detail found in St. John’s account of the first Easter: running. There is an unmistakable urgency on the part of Mary, Peter and the beloved disciple. St. John tells us that Mary’s initial action upon discovering the empty tomb was to run to Simon Peter with the news. We hear how Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved, upon hearing Mary’s report of an empty tomb, in turn ran to the tomb. And upon seeing the risen Jesus at the tomb, Mary “went and announced to the disciple, ‘I have seen the Lord’” (Jn 20:18). As today’s earthly disciples of Jesus, may we too bring, without delay, the Good News of the risen Jesus Christ to a waiting world. May we be missionary disciples.
The Light of Christ has scattered the darkness. We have seen God’s Glory. Let us proclaim the Good News.
Happy and Blessed Easter to you and your loved ones. Please be assured of my prayers. Christ has risen. He has risen indeed.