Alleluia! Easter is here at last! All the days of Lenten discipline and the sadness of Good Friday are over and we are here to rejoice. The readings remind us that we have a lot to rejoice about: the life of Jesus, his death and resurrection, and his promise to us. The psalm describes the stone, Jesus, who was rejected and who has become the very foundation of our faith. But it is John who tells the story of those first moments of uncertainty, fear, and excitement experienced by Mary of Magdala and two disciples, John and Simon Peter, when they discover that their beloved Jesus is not where they had buried him. Even though they do not understand the full meaning of his absence, they still believe.
Acts gives us the whole story in a nutshell. Jesus was baptized, anointed, and preached. He was crucified, died, and rose. Each line of the Gospel gives us a bit more information about this unfolding mystery that Mary of Magdala, John, and Simon Peter are encountering. First, Mary comes and sees just the stone removed from the entrance to the tomb and knows something is wrong. Then John comes and sees the burial cloths lying in the tomb. Finally, Peter comes and enters the tomb and sees the cloths spread around the tomb. But there is no body. What are they to do? What are we to do?
BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Do they understand it all? Do we understand it? No. Not even Jesus’ closest friends knew what to make of his absence. But this absence, the absence of his body, does not feel like the loss we experienced on Friday as we recalled his painful, agonizing death. Then we felt loss and fear and a profound emptiness. But his absence today fills us with hope and joy and a peace we only feel when the one we thought was lost is found again. We believe even without understanding because we experience not just his death but his whole life, a life that, as the disciples and we will soon realize, is transformed. We can believe that what Jesus said is true. Every word he spoke about his life and death, about his love for us and for the Father, every transformation of water to wine, every curing of the sick of body and soul, every day spent in the company of outcasts and the poor, every word of comfort and challenge, all of it is true because not even death itself could hold our beloved friend within a tomb.
Today’s Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37¬–43; Ps 118:1–2, 16–17, 22–23; Col 3:1–4 or 1 Cor 5:6b–8; Jn 20:1–9