Acts 2:14, 22-33 / Matthew 28:8-15
Guards say Jesus’ body was stolen: This story still circulates.
President Lincoln’s coffin was opened twice. The first time was in 1887, twenty-two years after his assassination. Rumors began sweeping the country that the coffin did not contain Lincoln’s body. The body was checked and verified to be that of Lincoln. The casket was resealed with lead. Fourteen years later, a new wave of rumors began to sweep the country. Again, the coffin was opened and shown to contain the body of Lincoln. This time the casket was not only resealed but also permanently embedded in a crypt in Springfield, Illinois. Similar rumors circulated about Jesus’ body. The only difference was that Jesus’ body was indeed missing. The rumors dealt with what happened to it.
How do we experience the Risen Christ in our daily lives? “Christ has made the dark door of death into a shining gate of life.” Anonymous
Truth has a way of bringing out the stuff that people are made of. In the gospel, we see two groups of people with different reactions to the empty tomb. The women saw the empty tomb, saw the Truth, ie. the Risen Christ, and then went off to proclaim the truth with joy in their hearts.
The soldiers saw the empty tomb, went to report to the chief priests and the elders, cooked up a lie and then lived on in fear and in worry.
Strange that the second group of people who are supposed to be people of courage and bravery, somehow succumbed to cowardice and deceit.
And it is surprising that the first group of people, the women, who were powerless, discounted and devalued, were the ones who lived up to the truth with courage.
So as long as we have something to lose, whether it is our social standing, our reputation, our security, our investments, our pride, then we will have a difficulty with the truth.
But the Easter greeting of the Risen Christ always assures us that He knows how we feel and He knows what we need.
The Risen Lord wants to calm our hearts with these four words "Do not be afraid" so that we too can proclaim the truth.
The Truth, who is the Risen Lord, will set us free. Let us not be afraid. Jesus will be with us to conquer our fears.****
Octave of Easter Monday: WE ARE EASTER WITNESSES
Peter had refused to say that he knew Jesus. Now, he cannot stop proclaiming that Jesus is risen. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, rush to tell the apostles that Jesus is risen. The readings of today are all about witnessing to the resurrection. Peter proclaims it as the key to his faith: Jesus who had been killed is truly risen and we, his disciples, are witnesses to this fact and this person. Mary Magdalene and her companion are told by the angels at the tomb that Jesus is risen. Then, they themselves encountered him. The Risen Jesus instructed them to convey this news to his other disciples. For now, they too, are witnesses that Christ is alive. We are these witnesses today.
- You, Lord, will not abandon my soul to the nether world, LHM
- Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge, CHM
- You, Lord, will show me the path to life, LHM
Our living God, our heart is glad and rejoices and we feel secure in our faith, that we have a living person to believe in, Jesus Christ, who is risen from the dead. Let him show us the path of life, let us live in the joy of his presence and give us the grace to make us witnesses, so that we can proclaim with our whole life, that Jesus is our risen, living Lord, now and for ever.
If Christ is not risen, then vain is your faith; you are still in your sins. The centrality of the resurrection in the catechesis of the church touches on the whole mystery of salvation. This was not solely for apologetic purposes. Certainly, if crucifixion has been the end, sin would have triumphed. But the resurrection has an importance beyond that. It is the risen Christ who confers the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit, we would be in no position to be a true believer and to overcome personal sin. As Paul teaches, no one can profess Jesus as Lord except in the Holy Spirit. In his Pentecost proclamation, Peter sees David the Psalmist as an early proclaimer of the messiah’s resurrection. When the psalmist spoke of freedom from corruption and the path of life, he was not speaking of himself. David died and his tomb was still frequented. So he spoke not of himself but of the Messiah, the risen Christ. To offset any idea of resurrection, the religious leaders in today’s Gospel advise the Roman guards to claim that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus while the guards slept. (A sound sleep it would have had to be, since the large stone had to be rolled back and the body absconded!) But such a story circulated among the Jews even to the end of the first century when the Gospel of Matthew was written. Easter is so pivotal that every mystery of our faith is viewed through that prism. Because of Easter, baptism is an immersion into the risen Christ; the Eucharist is a sharing in his true body and blood; Christian division is a rending of the one body of Christ. We are Easter people; Christ has triumphed; Alleluia is our cry!
Points to Ponder
The psalms adapted for Christian use
Early denial of the resurrection
Resurrection and the forgiveness of sins.
– For all the newly-baptized, that they may keep growing nearer to the risen Lord, we pray:
– For the missionaries, that they may proclaim to all those who are willing to listen that Jesus is the Risen Lord, who raises us above our selfishness and limitations, we pray:
– For all of us, that we may be joyful people, firm in our faith, because we have a Lord who has overcome evil and death, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
God, it is a real joy for us that your Son, Jesus, has invited us to sit at table with him. Let him again break for us the bread of himself and let him make us a people of joy and hope, who live close to Jesus and close to our brothers and sisters, as we are bound together by the life and love of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord, now and for ever.
Prayer after Communion
Lord God, your Son Jesus, has spoken to us his Word of greeting that takes away our fears and that fills us with joy. He has nourished us at his table with the warmth of his loving presence. Give us now the inspiration to let our whole life bear witness to him, to say that we believe in his message of hope and that he is the center and meaning of our life. For he is Jesus, our living Lord, now and for ever.
Do not be afraid. Tell your brothers and sisters that the Lord is risen and alive. Let him also be alive in our communities, in our joy, in our faith, in our readiness to serve and love. May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.