- Isaiah 25:6-9
- Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
- Mark 16:1-8
Today is the most important day of the Christian calendar. It is the Feast of the Resurrection – a point upon which all our faith is grounded. Three women approach the tomb early in the morning as Jesus’ “follow me” has brought them to a journey’s end where they anticipate sadness and mourning as they perform the last service of honor to the dead.
Mary Gordon states in Incarnation: Contemporary Writers on the New Testament (Viking Press, 1990): But Mark, the harshest, the sparest of the Gospel writers, give us an unhopeful Easter. Many scholars believe that the manuscript actually ended with a failure of nerve. The women, seeing the angel at the empty tomb, are terrified. The angel tells them to bring the message of Christ’s resurrection to the disciples, but they don’t. It is believed that the original manuscript ended with this verse: “Then they went out and ran away from the tomb, beside themselves with terror. They said nothing to anybody but they were afraid.”
The messenger’s announcement is that Jesus lives; Jesus is not a dead teacher to be quoted nor a martyred prophet to be enshrined. He is someone to talk to, not just talk about. The other gospel writers tell of several immediate appearances of Jesus to various disciples; for Mark, the empty tomb is the most dramatic and convincing evidence of the great miracle.
As the followers of Jesus began to understand the witness of the empty tomb, they also began to tell others. The lesson in Acts gives a summary of the Gospel message as Peter addresses his first Gentile converts. He begins with the important understanding that the fruits of the victory of the Resurrection are for everyone (10:34-25). This is true whether a person understands the revelation of Jesus Christ or not.
Later, Christ was seen alive by more individuals such Peter and James, by the gathered Apostles, and by an assembly of more than five hundred followers. Moreover, it is possible for the Risen Christ to appear to those who, like Paul himself, had not known his earthly ministry. We too are called to pass on what we know of Christ to a needy world – to proclaim the Gospel so that others will believe.
The Psalmist expresses our joy on this Easter day: “Give thanks to the Lord . . .” for God is good, God’s mercy endures forever! (118:1). Alleluia!
- How had the future hopes and expectations of the followers of Jesus been changed by the crucifixion? How were their lives further transformed by the news that Jesus had been raised?
- Why do you think the women were afraid to tell anyone what they had heard or seen? Why are we still hesitant to tell others of the experience of Jesus in our lives?
- In what ways do you think the Church does today what the women set out to do, that is, to perfume and preserve a dead body? What should we be doing instead? What duties do we perform that can turn into life-changing surprises? When has this happened to you?
- What is your understanding of the Resurrection? How does this unprecedented Event profoundly affect your own life?