Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Sunday The Resurrection of the Lord

The Mass of Easter Day
Catechism Links[1]
CCC 638-655, 989,1001-1002: The Resurrection of Christ and our resurrection
CCC 647, 1167-1170, 1243,1287: Easter, the Lord’s Day
CCC 1212: The Sacraments of Initiation
CCC 1286-1289: Confirmation
CCC 1322-1323: Eucharist

“Resurrection of Christ” by Marco Basaiti, 1520
Reading 1: Acts10:34a, 37-43
Commentary on Acts 10:34a, 37-43
This is part of Peter’s speech to Cornelius and his family (Gentiles). Peter (according to St. Luke) assumes the people know what has happened – namely that Jesus who was thought to be the Messiah, had proven that fact in the resurrection. Now he reminds them, before the creed was written, that Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead.
He goes further, explaining that his Apostles are also called to spread that word through preaching: to take what they have been given, the Good News of Christ and him crucified, into the world.  This call, St. Peter explains, is so all peoples might come to know and understand that God has fulfilled the promise he made through the prophets by providing a sacrifice of atonement, his Only Begotten Son Jesus, and that belief in him will lead to reconciliation to the Father through the forgiveness of sins.
CCC: Acts 10:38 438, 453, 486, 1289; Acts 10:39 597; Acts 10:41 659, 995; Acts 10:42 679
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
R. (24) This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
Commentary on Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Psalm 118 is in regular use during the Easter season. It is a liturgical song of praise and victory. The messianic imagery is so strong that it has been used for the past three days, reflecting the joy of the Church in the Eastertide. This litany of thanksgiving features the cornerstone image that, in addition to Acts 10:34a, 37-43 (Easter Sunday), was also used in the Gospel of St. Mark (Mark 12:10) and the first epistle of St. Peter (1 Peter 2:7) (there are 9 other scripture references not listed here).
CCC: Ps 118:22 587, 756
Reading II: Colossians 3:1-4
Commentary on Col 3:1-4
Paul gives assurance to the Colossians that they too have a home with Christ, who now is seated at the right hand of the Father. In saying this, he points their aspirations to the things of heaven, telling them that if eternal life with Christ is what they desire, they should focus their thoughts on the Lord not on things of the earth.
CCC: Col 3-4 1971; Col 3:1-3 655; Col 3:1 1002; Col 3:3 665, 1003, 1420, 2796; Col 3:4 1003, 2772
Commentary on I Cor 5:6b-8
Paul calls the Corinthians to conversion with a metaphor. He uses the dual meaning or implication of leaven in bread and the feast of the Passover to symbolize the new covenant. The traditional Passover meal or Seder is lamb and unleavened bread. Christ, the Lamb of God and the unleavened bread of the Eucharist is their meal.
CCC: 1 Cor 5:6-8 129; 1 Cor 5:7 608, 610, 613
Gospel: John 20:1-9
Commentary on John 20:1-9
In St. John’s account of the discovery of the “Empty Tomb,” we hear how the disciple whom Jesus loved understood what had come to pass before Peter did. Found also in Luke (Luke24:1-12), this story furnishes the testimony that confirms Christ’s resurrection. The story of the discovery of the empty tomb describes St. John (the disciple whom Jesus loved). “From these details concerning the empty tomb one deduces that Jesus' body must have risen in a heavenly manner, that is, in a way which transcended the laws of nature. It was not only a matter of the body being reanimated as happened, for example, in the case of Lazarus, who had to be unbound before he could walk (cf. John 11:44)”[5] It is interesting that St. John arrives first but recognizes St. Peter’s primacy, waiting for him to enter the tomb first. Note also that when St. John entered the tomb, he immediately understood what happened and “believed.”
CCC: Jn 20:1 2174; Jn 20:2 640; Jn 20:5-7 640; Jn 20:6 640; Jn 20:7 515; Jn 20:8 640
(Gospel from the Easter Vigil may be used at any Easter Mass)
Commentary on Mt 28:1-10
St. Matthew’s account of the empty tomb has much in common with Mark and Luke. Unique in this account is the dramatic action which rolls the stone away from the tomb, and the proactive angelic presence announcing the resurrection. In none of the Gospel accounts do we actually see Christ rising from the dead. The empty tomb, and the reminder that Jesus told his disciples that he would rise after three days, is the evidence of the great salvific event.
The two women’s encounter with Christ as they ran to tell the disciples is unique in the synoptic Gospels, but is similar to the account from St. John. They embraced him, a physical form, raised from the dead.
CCC: Mt 28:1 500, 2174, 2174; Mt 28:6 652; Mt 28:9-10 641; Mt 28:9 645; Mt 28:10 654
Or, at an afternoon or evening Mass: Luke 24:13-35
Commentary on Lk 24:13-35
This story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus is only found in Luke’s Gospel. There is a mention in Mark (Mark 16;12) that is vague but probably refers to this event. The actual location of Emmaus is not known, but it is estimated that it was between 7 and 18 miles from Jerusalem. The focus of the story is the unrecognized Jesus (similar: in John 20:11-18, Mary Magdalene thought he was a gardener).  Jesus interprets scripture and then he is recognized in the breaking of the bread (the Eucharistic reference).
"In the course of their conversation with Jesus, the disciples' mood changes from sadness to joy; they begin to hope again, and feel the need to share their joy with others, thus becoming heralds and witnesses of the risen Christ."[6]
CCC: Lk 24:13-49 1094; Lk 24:13-35 1329, 1347; Lk 24:15 645, 659; Lk 24:17 643; Lk 24:21 439; Lk 24:22-23 640; Lk 24:25-27 112, 601; Lk 24:26-27 572, 652; Lk 24:26 555, 710; Lk 24:27 555, 2625; Lk 24:30 645, 1166; Lk 24:31 659; Lk 24:34 552, 641
What would you do if a day after you buried your best friend, someone ran up to you and told you they had just gone out to put flowers on the grave and found it empty?  In this day and age you might think perhaps the cemetery workers had needed to exhume the casket, perhaps a mistake had been made.  You might think that grave robbers had done something heinous.  It is highly unlikely, no matter how spirit-filled your best friend may have been, that you would think: “Oh, they must have risen from the dead.” Whatever your thoughts might be, we can bet those possibilities would be running through your mind while you were rushing to the graveside.
This is the picture painted by St. John in his Gospel story today.  Further, thoughts about officials having moved the body, or grave robbers having stolen the body, were most likely what Peter and John were thinking as they ran toward the tomb after Mary of Magdala told them she found it open.
And when they arrived and saw the tomb empty, we can only imagine the heart stopping shock they felt.  It was as Mary had said, and things were even stranger than that.  They feared that the temple guards had hired vandals to steal the body (No Jew would have defiled themselves during the Passover by touching a dead body). Or perhaps, the Romans had wanted to somehow discredit Jesus by taking his body away.  But if they had done that, why leave the burial cloths in the tomb?  And even stranger, why roll up the covering of the head and place it in a different place?  It would be like us arriving at the disappearance of our best friend and finding they had taken the body but left the clothing.
To understand how confounding this event must have been, we need to understand what these disciples of Jesus believed about him and about death.  First, and we must be clear about this, they absolutely knew Jesus was dead.  They saw him die, and they saw the guard shove a lance into his chest to make sure.  The Romans were experts at killing. There was no question, Jesus was dead.
Jews of Jesus' day were divided about what happened after death.  The Sadducees and most conservative Jews believed that when someone died – that was it – you ended completely.  We find this expressed in the Psalms where we hear the psalmist pleading with God to continue his physical life because once he has returned to dust he could no longer praise God.  Others believed in some murky existence in a place called Sheol.  A place of the dead, not quite hell as we know it, but an unhappy place.  Others at the time of Christ, notably some of the Pharisees, believed in the resurrection of the just, at the end of the age, the end times.
The disciples of Jesus were likely believers in this final view, that at the end of time Jesus would be raised up with the rest of the just (those who lived lives in accordance with Mosaic Law).  In their wildest dreams, they did not suspect that what they found at the tomb pointed to Jesus resurrection.  The Gospel even says so.  We hear at the end of St. John’s Gospel “For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
In this Easter story, the disciples would have been facing a huge mystery.  They would not understand until later, when Jesus actually appeared to them and invited them to inspect his wounds, letting them know he was not a ghost.  It was only then that the magnitude of what had taken place would strike them.  This revelation would send them scattering across the known world proclaiming the Good News.  That is the Easter Proclamation: Jesus is risen from the dead and that was done for us so that we might understand and believe all that he promised when he walked among us.
The question we must ask ourselves, as we rejoice once more in this knowledge, is what does this event mean for us? In what way does it affect us and the way we live our lives?  To answer those questions we must answer this one: Why did Jesus, the only Son of God, come to earth as man and endure suffering and death at the hands of a people he came to save?  It is a question that we each must answer for ourselves, because it is only then that the answer will affect the way we live, and our ultimate disposition at the end of time.  If we believe that Jesus did this so that each of us might enjoy the rewards of the peace and love of God in this life and in the next, then it should be the most important thing in our life.  If we have not yet come to that conclusion, that Jesus’ sacrifice is supremely important in our lives, our decision will show as well, and the benefits of faith will also be less evident.
Today we cry out rejoicing: He is Risen!  From this hour forward his gift is once more in our hands. It is up to us what we do with it.
Please Remember Esther Ruth Miles, September 18, 1925 to April 18, 2008 

[1] Catechism links are taken from the Homiletic Directory, Published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 29 June 2014
[2] The picture used today is “Resurrection of Christ” by Marco Basaiti, 1520
[5]  The Navarre Bible, Gospels and Acts, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp. 699
[6] The Navarre Bible, “Gospels and Acts”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp. 513

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