Easter Sunday – Mass during the Day – 17 April 2022
Lectionary Readings: Acts 10:34a. 37-43; Ps 118: 1-2. 15-17. 22-23; Col. 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-9
Theme: We rejoice and are glad in our Risen Lord
In our Gospel reading from John for this the celebration of the Eucharist for Easter Sunday we have some wonderful happenings which reveal to us John’s purpose for writing his account. Firstly, we have the characters of Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter, the ‘other disciple’ and the ‘empty tomb’. Secondly, we have details like ‘the first day of the week’; ‘still dark’; and ‘stone had been taken away from the tomb’. We have Mary Magdalene running to tell Simon Peter and ‘the one whom Jesus loved’ that Jesus’ body has been removed – her conclusion as a result of the stone having been rolled away, and in distress and confusion, she wants to find the body of Jesus. We have Simon Peter and the ‘other disciple’ running. The ‘other disciple’ runs faster and looks in and sees the ‘linen cloths’ but does not go in before Simon Peter. Simon Peter goes into the tomb and sees “the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been at his head”. The napkin was rolled up away from the linen cloths. Then the ‘other disciple’ who was at the tomb first entered and ‘saw’ and ‘believed’. The fact that Jesus must rise again, according to the Scripture, had not yet dawned on Mary Magdalene and Simon Peter, but the ‘other disciple’ believed.
It is interesting that Simon Peter and the ‘other disciple’ believe Mary Magdalene – probably because of her distress and confusion at discovering the stone had been rolled away. Women’s tales were not regarded as reliable. The two disciples run (two were needed as witnesses to a truth) – a reaction to Mary Magdalene’s alarming news! The evangelist says it is ‘still dark’ which probably refers to the slowness to believe in what Jesus had said and the human confusion. It was the first day of the week – the third day since the crucifixion and burial.
The ‘other disciple’ probably being younger and more open to believing (‘the one whom Jesus loved’), reaches the tomb first but waits for Simon Peter to go in first. Is it out of deference to the one chosen to lead the apostles? He does see the linen cloths. Simon Peter enters and sees the linen cloths and the ‘napkin rolled up away from the cloths’ – the way they would have been around the body. So no-one had stolen the body – it is as if the body rose to life leaving the cloths behind. Nothing is said about whether Simon Peter believed but it is said that the ‘other disciple’ ‘saw’ the cloths and that was enough for him to believe that Jesus had risen. Simon Peter, it seems, is still slow to believe.
In the first reading from Acts we see Peter standing up and boldly proclaiming that “God raised (Jesus) up on the third day and made him manifest”. He is called Simon Peter in the gospel account and Peter here. Is it that he now has taken on his role as the believing leader (the ‘Rock’) of the apostles? We remember that this is after the encounters with the Risen Lord, his Ascension and the bestowing of the Holy Spirit.
In response to this amazing Mystery of God’s love and mercy, we pray together the first words of the “Victimae Pascali”: Let Christians offer sacrificial praises to the Passover victim. The lamb has redeemed the sheep: The Innocent Christ has reconciled the sinners to the Father. Death and life contended in a spectacular battle: the dead leader of life reigns alive. Alleluia, Praise the Lord!
For Reflection and Discussion: 1.With whom do I stand in this ‘empty tomb’ story? 2. In our second reading from Colossians we are told that we have died with Christ (in our Baptism) and that therefore our lives are hidden with Christ in God. What difference has this made in your life at this time in our world? 3. Can I say with conviction that “this is the day the Lord has made; (I) rejoice in it and (am) glad?” Do I witness to this truth in my life? Bibliography: Nicholas, King. The New Testament. (Great Britain: 2004); African Bible (Nairobi: 2004); Wikipedia: Victimae Pascali.
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Bernadette Teresa Chellew, Durban, South Africa; Bat Kol Alumna: 2008