Readings:

Acts 10:34, 37-43, Psalm 117(118), Colossians  3:1-4/Corinthians  5:6-8, John 20:1-9

There is an extraordinary contrast between the glorious certainty and confidence of the first and second readings, the psalm and the Sequence, and the hesitancy of the apostles and Mary Magdalene in the gospel today. These do not even think in terms of resurrection,  just have a fear that the body of their friend and leader has been stolen. The fearlessness and authority of Peter in Acts and Paul in the excerpts from his letter, read alongside the gospel, helps us to grasp the enormity of what they were dealing with. It was truly unbelievable. No-one  had ever risen from the dead, the hints and clues given by Christ to his disciples had not been seriously thought out.

The sense of utter freedom and joy that characterises the Paschal season begs the questions: freedom  from what, to do what?  There lies the challenge. We cannot just bask in  Easter sunshine. There is a job to do. Freedom from the darkness of the tomb is not something to be quiet about. The news must be passed on. Isn’t  that what we do daily – listen to and tell others the news? And this is such news! This is real joy! The Easter season is quite long: we need this time to reflect on what has happened, on how our lives have changed, to absorb the language of the liturgy and make it our own.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad. I shall not die, I shall live and recount his deeds. I saw Christ’s glory as he rose.  You too will be revealed in all your glory with him.  And on and on, an embarrassment of riches. How can so many people associate religion with grimness, bleakness, rigidity? This is part of our challenge: to be unashamedly and exuberantly joyful. Christ did say that our joy would be full. Why do we not take him at his word?

We do not have to, in the words of John Betjeman, be the kind of people who “waste their breath inventing dainty names for death”.  He continues:

But since we’re  Christians, we believe
That we new bodies will receive
To clothe our souls for us to meet.
Our Maker at his Judgement Seat.
And this belief’s a gift of faith
And, if it’s  true, no end is death.
Mid-Lent is passed and Easter’s near
The greatest day of all the year
When Jesus, who indeed had died,
Rose with his body glorified.
And if you find believing hard
The primroses  in your churchyard
And modern science too will show
That all things change the while they grow,
And we, who change in Time will be
Still more changed in Eternity.

                                                                                                                               Alleluia!    

 

Lucina Montague, OP