31st March 2024

Lectionary Readings: Acts. 10:34.37-43 Ps. 118, 1-2.,16-17. 22-23, Col 3:1-4 or 1 Cor 5:6b-8,Jn 20:1-9 (42) Theme: Rejoice! Easter People

The gospel reading of today, John 20:1-9, is not only focusing on the Good News, the fulfillment of the Scripture, but also giving us another dimension of reflecting upon it. In the Gospel of John 20:1-9 in the presence of the woman Mary Magdalene Jesus makes himself known to her and speaks of his resurrection and dispatches Mary Magdalene to tell the news to the disciples. Easter is the first and, in a sense, the only Christian festival.  Yet even the first Easter is connected in the Gospels with the Jewish Passover which celebrates the saving of the Israelites from death in Egypt and their coming to live as the People of God.

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels! Jesus Christ, our King, is risen! Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes forever! (Roman missal of 1970)  The Exultet is a hymn intoned during the Easter Vigil after the procession with the Paschal Candle before the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word. It is used in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the Anglican Churches, as well as other Christian Denominations. It gives a great feeling, and my first experience was while singing this inside the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem the place thought to be where Jesus was Resurrected.

Yet darkness has not vanished! With the exoneration of Pilate and the Romans for the crucifixion of Jesus and the blame laid on the Jews, a seed of darkness was sown that grew and swelled into the dark ominous clouds of smoke that was the Shoah.

The Second Vatican Council with its proclamation of Nostra Aetate, paragraph 4 and subsequent documents signal a major reversal in the church’s attitude to Jews i.e., God’s covenant with the Jewish people has never been revoked (I.3, Notes’85) and Jesus was and always remained a Jew (III.20, Notes ’85).  Vatican II is but a beginning. Recent events of the past year alert us to the fact that much is left to be done before there is a real metanoia in the churches. We are Easter People, our search for God is meant to be an active search, not a passive one. Let’s be open and avoid any biases or racism so that we can show to the whole world and demonstrate that Jesus is the source of eternal life.

For Reflection and Discussion: 1. Am I part of the Easter People? 2. At today’s Celebration do you still look at the empty tomb? 3. Do I still see the Jews as causing the death of Jesus?

Bibliography:  S. Heschel, A. J. Levine, The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus (New York, 2006); Nostra Aetate:  http://www.nostreradici.it/enaetate.htm This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Dunhill Malunar Timkang
, Israel-Jerusalem, Bat Kol Alumnus: 2023


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