Sunday, April 12, 2020

Reflection For Easter Sunday

Taken from A Catholic Moment;

Easter is the greatest and the most important feast in the Church. It can only be described as the core of the Church’s life.
According to the magisterium of the Church: “The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our Faith in Christ, a Faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross…” (CCC. 638).
The centrality of Easter in the life of the Church can be summed up in three:

1. It is the foundation of our faith. The Church would not have existed if Christ had not risen from the dead. The the central theme of the kerygma of the early Church is, “Jesus is Lord, He is risen!” (Rom 10:9).

2. It is a pledge of our own resurrection and a guarantee for a life that does not end here. Thus our faith is not in vain.

3. It revives our hope in this world of pain, sorrows, and tears with the assurance that with Christ we are conquerors. 

FIRST READING: Acts 10:34a.37-43
The First Reading is a continuation of the whole episode of God’s revelation, a post-pentecost action of the Holy Spirit on the soil of the gentiles. Peter who is one of the protagonists of the action of the Holy Spirit is located in the house of Cornelius the centurion of the Italica cohort stationed in Caesarea showed in his discourse that the Pentecostal experience is simply an empowerment to proclaim the joy of the Pascal mystery which is the nucleus of the christian message.
In this solemn discourse, the apostles demonstrated to his audience that the resurrection of Christ is not a ‘hear-say’ but a fact, for the justification of the resurrection is not just the empty tomb and the linen, and even the testimony of the women that went to the tomb was not enough evidence. He therefore underlined that they (apostles) were witnesses because He appeared to them, and they saw Him. Peter added another important element in the whole mystery of the resurrection: “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the One ordained by God…” This clearly ascertained that the risen Christ is the reason for the christian faith. In other words, the christian message holds no ground without the resurrection. Evidently, that is why St. Paul made it clear in his letter to the Corinthians, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without substance, and so is your faith (1 Cor. 15:14).

SECOND READING: Colossians 3:1-4
Theme: “Seek the things that are above, where Christ is.”
The Second reading is Paul’s invitation to us through the community of Colossae to make the resurrection of Christ a lived experience.
The Colossians at the time Paul was writing were victims of gnostic influence, empty and deceitful philosophies as well as syncretistic practices which were not compatible with the faith they received. Thus, Paul writes today to remind them of the need to fix their eyes above where Christ is as a way to shun the influence of the world and its empty promises.
Paul makes it clear to them that the new life they have received through Christ must be lived in the light of the resurrection: “Since you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is…” The expression, “being raised with Christ” does not imply a physical resurrection from the dead, rather it metaphorically suggests a spiritual resurrection from the old life (being converted to Christ).

GOSPEL: John 20:1-9
“…He must rise from the dead.”
This is the theme of the Gospel reading.
We all know what it feels like to loose one who very dear to us. It takes a very long time to go through the pain, and the memory always remains.
Mary Magdalene was among those traumatised by the absence of the Master, and she never stopped coming to the tomb to check for the one she ever loved. The question is, ‘what was she doing in the garden alone while it was still dark?’ It can only be for the sake of love for the one who gave her back her life; for some she was the adulterous woman that Jesus saved from being stoned, and for some others, she was the woman that Jesus delivered of 7 demons (Lk 8:2). Certainly, there was no indication that she went to see if the Lord has risen. In fact Mark in his account of the resurrection identified her alongside with Mary the mother of James and Salome who bought some spices to go and anoint Jesus. Yes, she knew less and expected less about the resurrection, that is why upon seeing the stone rolled away, she ran hastily to Peter and John and said; ” They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him” (Jn. 20:2). Now her witness of the stone being taken away as well as the empty tomb with the linen cloth and napkins seen by Peter and John, were not enough proof that He had truly risen. John himself who recorded this Gospel affirms that at this time, they did not yet know the scripture, that He must rise from the dead (Jn. 20:9). So the empty tomb and the linen cloth and napkins would have served for nothing if Christ had not appeared to the apostles.
From here, we can reconnect ourselves back to the First Reading whereby Peter affirmed, “we are witnesses of this” not just referring to the event of the empty tomb but more importantly because He appeared to them and commissioned them to go out and preach to the people. Thus, it was their seeing of the risen Christ that gave importance to and confirmed the truth of the empty tomb.
This way of telling the story of the resurrection gives a good reason to long for the next. It was necessary that the apostles witness the empty tomb first before the appearance of Jesus. It was the empty tomb that deepened their longing and expectation of the fulfilment of the Word of thei master who said that He will rise after three days. And finally, his appearing made the empty tomb, a holy tomb, a relic, and a mystery in itself.


In his Angelus message in Adelaide, Australia (Nov. 30, 1986) during his Apostolic visit to the far East and Oceania, the holy father JOHN PAUL II told the mammoth crowd: We do not pretend that life is all beauty. We are aware of darkness and sin, of poverty and pain. But we know Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his own pain to the glory of the Resurrection. And we live in the light of his Paschal Mystery – the mystery of his Death and Resurrection. “WE ARE AN EASTER PEOPLE AND ALLELUIA IS OUR SONG!”
This simply means that no matter the story our present life is telling, Christ through his resurrection has told a different story of hope that we have been empowered to rise from the tombs of our sins, evil habits, dangerous addictions, sufferings and pains. His resurrection is an assurance that no tomb can hold us down anymore – not the tomb of despair, discouragement, doubt or death itself. We have become conquerors through the power of him who died and rose from death.

Sometimes we are like the apostles and disciples of Jesus who felt that all was over with the death of their master. Little did they know that their despair will not have the final word. While they were still living in the rough memory of Good Friday, God surprised them with Easter Sunday, and for them it was an explosion of joy. The Lord will never allow us to remain in despair and at his own time, he will transform our “Good Friday” tears into an “Easter sunday” joy.

Above every worry and preoccupation, let us remember that we have a responsibility of being bearers of the Good News of the resurrection. Yes, on that faithful morning of the resurrection, Mary Magdalene felt disappointed and disheartened when she  did not find what she was looking for that is, the dead body of Jesus. But because she made an effort by rising early and taking the pain of searching for her Lord, the Lord did not disappoint her. He made her to experience something better than what she was looking for. He made her to see “The Risen Lord” instead of his dead body. We are often weighed down in disappointment when the things we desire and admire are not granted to us. Mary kept searching in hope and even wept in hope because her Lord was no more. Let us not lose hope when we are greeted with pains, for as long as God is concerned, after our long waiting and searching we will surely receive a good news not just for ourselves, but equally for Peter, for John and for the rest of the people around us. May we like Mary say: “We have seen the Lord!

May the Lord Jesus who died and rose again from death give us hope to celebrate his resurrection amidst our present despair, and may his resurrection be for us all a pledge of our resurrection. Amen.


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