Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. (John 20:1-9)
The gospel reading from John may seem odd, because we hear only part of the story of the resurrection. Neither Mary Magdalene or the disciples encounter the risen Lord. Yet such a reading can bring their experience closer to ours. During the course of this Passover weekend, the disciples’ faith was stretched greatly. Until they encountered the risen Christ, they could only hope and trust in his promise that he would rise.
Similarly, we ourselves have not encountered the risen Christ in the flesh. So this is a time of faith for us as well. Yet, unlike these first disciples, we do not have to wait with anxiety and fear. We have the Holy Spirit living in us to give us confidence that the resurrection is real. Our faith in Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, comes from the Spirit. It is he who convinces us of realities that we will not see until the final day of the Lord.
That’s why Easter is such a day of celebration: The Holy Spirit is making Jesus’ resurrection real to us! He wants to bring us the freedom from sin that Jesus accomplished on the cross. We are no longer slaves to sin. We don’t have to see Jesus with our eyes; we can receive him in our hearts! Even death cannot overcome us!
We have the opportunity today to go beyond an intellectual faith to a faith that is living in our hearts. Christ is risen! He has cleansed us of every sin. We will not die; we will live with him forever! If you have not experienced this indescribable joy, today is the day to start. The Holy Spirit is ready to show you the love and power of God. Today is the day to experience these glorious truths in a way that will cause you to shout aloud: “He is risen!” The words will ring with meaning for you if you ask the Spirit to reveal them to your heart.
Points for Meditation
• In prayer, ask the Lord to show you how the resurrection of his Son can affect you in a tangible way. In what ways can the risen Christ be manifested in you and through you?
• Whatever trials or struggles you may be experiencing in your life right now, ask the Holy Spirit to give you a deep sense of joy today, especially as you receive the body and blood of Jesus in the Eucharist.
• Spend some time meditating on these words of St. Anselm: “You were a bond-slave and by this man you are free. By him you are brought back from exile; lost, you are restored; dead, you are raised.”
Jesus, what words of praise can I offer you? Death has been swallowed up in your victory. Your divine life is now alive within me. Lord Jesus, I will love and praise you forever!