AD SENSE

Monday within Easter Octave, April 5

 Monday within Easter Octave, April 5

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. Rumours 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 rumours 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 rumours circulated about Jesus' body. The only difference was that Jesus' body was indeed missing. The rumours dealt with what happened to it.

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It is an astonishing fact and it has been so for the last two thousand years. For some - Jesus is the meaning, content and fulfilment of their life; and for some - an object of their aversion, enmity and hatred. Jesus was astonished about the latter. For the women he was the cause of their joy, that attracted them to Jesus to work for him and to be sent by him. Jesus rewarded their zeal. They were allowed to see him, to fall at his feet, to adore him. Women love to give news to others. He made himself the good news for them to pass on. The soldiers went into the town, not to the officer who had assigned them their duty, not to Pilate whose servants they were, but to the High Priests. Religion was their business. They so foolish as to order them to say that while they slept, disciples came and stole the body. No court has ever accepted sleeping witnesses. Yet bribing can even produce that! Why? No one has ever had a valid argument against Christ and the truth and grace he entrusted to his Church.

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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

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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.

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We are fortunate today to listen to a sermon preached by the fisherman from Bethsaida, Peter. How did he understand Christ now? Would he still tell Jesus: This shall never happen to you, as he said when Jesus spoke the first time of his passion at Caesarea Philippi? The sermons in the early Church were mainly on the Cross and the Resurrection, repentance and baptism. The Cross "was the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God". "You killed him". The Cross was no accident. God knew and had planned this sharing of his love from all eternity: This is no excuse for those who did it. In his love God gave his only son. Sin killed him. Sin can take the loveliest life and destroy it. Yet God had the power to make good that crime and he did. He raised Christ to life in the Resurrection. Peter quotes a psalm of David This psalm was already before Jesus understood to apply to the Messiah. It finds its full sense in the resurrection of Jesus, Peter very rightly says.

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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.

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Prayer: 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. Amen.