He is Risen! Alleluia! There were soldiers standing guard outside the tomb where Jesus was buried, but there were no eyewitnesses to what happened in the darkness inside. So profound was the mystery of what exactly took place, the Resurrection of the Lord, that no one on this side of heaven could experience it firsthand. The triumphant reversal of the curse that lay upon the whole human family is a matter for profound, reverent, and humble meditation.
In the Gospel of John, the account of what took place on Easter morning shows a progression of delving deeper into the mystery of the Resurrection. It begins with Mary of Magdala’s early morning visit to the tomb “while it was still dark.” The first thing that the morning light reveals is that the stone has somehow been removed. Mary does not attempt to search for Jesus in the dark, but rather runs to Simon Peter and the other disciple for help. The light is beginning to shine, not on Mary alone but on the whole Church.
Next we see that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” goes further than Mary of Magdala in trying to understand what has taken place. When he arrives at the tomb, he bends down and looks inside; he sees that the tomb is empty but does not yet go in. Simon Peter comes next, and he delves deeper into the mystery of the Resurrection. He goes further and sees more: the burial shroud, and then the cloth that covered Jesus’ face rolled up in a separate place. At last, the other disciple enters the tomb. “He saw and believed.” He saw with his eyes, he believed with his heart; he saw natural things, he believed supernatural things. He stepped physically into the tomb; he stepped interiorly into the light of faith.
Our experience of the mystery of faith is like this. We are not trapped in a dark tomb; we have been raised with Christ and we walk in his light. We have some signs and perhaps some words to describe it, but the core of the reality cannot be adequately described; it is beyond words. As we enter more deeply into the Paschal Mystery, we do not know what to say. The Church has preserved and treasured the ancient Hebrew word Alleluia, “praise the Lord,” giving us a fitting way to express the awe, joy and gratitude that must accompany true worship. The Lord is alive, and though we cannot see him with our eyes, we worship him in our hearts.
The magnitude of the Resurrection took time to fathom, but through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles were able to proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ new life clearly and boldly. In the first reading, St. Peter announces that Jesus, “raised on the third day,” is “the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.” And St. Paul tells us in his Letter to the Colossians, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” Easter sets before us death and life, earth and heaven, and reveals to us that we are made for life, for heaven, for union with the Father through Jesus Christ. This union begins here on earth as we ponder the extraordinary wonder of the Resurrection.
We celebrate eternal life today, Easter Day, and we continue to celebrate it for the next eight days, the Easter Octave, and for the whole “fifty days” of the Easter Season, and for every day thereafter… As we heard in the solemn blessing of the Easter Candle, the symbol of the Risen Christ, “Christ yesterday and today; the Beginning and the End; the Alpha and the Omega. All time belongs to him, and all the ages. To him be glory and power through every age and forever. Amen.”
How can I delve more deeply into the mystery of the Resurrection? Do I believe that I have been raised with Christ and walk in his light? Am I willing to live in the awe, joy and gratitude of true worship?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 14, no. 4. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.