4th April, 2010
Acts 10:34, 37-43
Not too long ago at the funeral Mass of a certain man, the priest in his homily said of him ‘he went around doing good. In fact he spent most of his life doing good’.
These are the very words that Peter used in the first reading today about Jesus. And this was because God had anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit. Whilst alive among us before his death Jesus preached the Good News that God was an incredibly, loving, forgiving and compassionate Father. Jesus healed many people and freed many from the power of what enslaved them-their fears, their sinful way of life etc. But despite going around doing good, the Jewish religious leaders eventually arranged the death of Jesus because the God they proclaimed was one who was a very demanding, judgemental God who was totally the opposite of the God Jesus proclaimed. Having got rid of Jesus these Jewish religious leaders thought it was the end of Jesus but we know otherwise and today we celebrate the great event of His Resurrection.
Perhaps Easter Sunday is something like that. Up to the moment of the Resurrection, after the terrible death of Jesus on Good Friday, the disciples were devastated. The One they had leaned on was gone. They never imagined Jesus would have been taken prisoner and crucified. In that instant their dreams evaporated. The disciples experienced a dreadful loss and were shattered Their hopes were gone. The Jesus they believed was crucified. For them at that terrible time, they never expected the sun to shine for them again in their lives.
Now in today’s gospel, a woman no less, Mary of Magdala reports to Peter and John that the tomb is empty. In many of the Resurrection accounts, it is the women who first experience the Risen Jesus. Women at that time, as in many places still today, were looked down upon. It seems that the proclamation of the Risen Jesus starts with the very people who were marginalised and who counted for little in society. In any case the curiosity of the 2 is awakened and they run to the tomb. Peter sees the linen cloths on the ground in the empty tomb. He did no more than see what was there. However, it is said of John that he ‘saw and he believed’ even though his own faith was not yet perfect because the full impact had not yet dawned on him. It took Thomas even some days to surrender and accept – very consoling for us. To discover fully how rich faith is takes time and growth and God is incredibly understanding and patient.
Like Mary Magdalene, Peter and John who all eventually came to believe, faith is a sheer gift from God that enables us to accept God’s revelation in Scripture and in the lives of the first witnesses to the resurrection that Jesus is alive, is out and about in our world today.
This is my experience of resurrection. Whilst the empty tomb has its importance I know that I have experienced much freedom because of the gift of faith in the resurrection of Jesus God gives me and the experience of Jesus working in my life now. Anywhere I see love in action in life I see the power of the Risen Jesus at work. Mary Magdalene went in the dark and found an empty tomb. Since Jesus was not there it was indeed darkness, but later in meeting Jesus a new light dawned for her and all other believers.
The resurrection doesn’t mean that we gloss over pain, suffering and difficult daily life situations, but it does give us a new vision of life. It gives us the freedom to face the dark side of life, and even death with confidence knowing that Jesus broke the bonds of human limitation and death.
For Christians resurrection is now, not just after we die.
If we are faithful despite the great difficulty of these times, we believe Jesus is there with us then and he will surely help us experience the sun shining again. Not only that we will begin to develop talents and gifts we never knew we had because fear gives way to trust in Jesus. This empowers us to break free of former limitations. With Jesus risen and gone from them the first apostles and disciples developed courageous leadership and other skills they never knew they possessed.
In the gospel today we heard that on approaching the tomb in the still darkness of pre-dawn, Mary Magdalene’s thoughts were centred on a stone to be rolled away as she was convinced that the dead body of Jesus was inside. It was all she had eyes for, as it were. Nor did she check on whether the tomb was empty or whether her beloved Lord was still there. Perhaps in reflecting on our own experience we might think about the many stones that need to be rolled away. What is it that keeps us unfree? Where are we closed in from what or whomever?
I imagine that you are at Mass today because you are anointed with the Holy Spirit. You are empowered to go around doing good. The Lord invites us to continue this work which he did during his life on earth. He chooses to use us, human and failing at times as we do. We are that important to God and let us never forget that we are resurrection people, empowered to witness to a God who has raised Jesus from the dead and is by our side to strengthen us at all times.
“Thank you, Lord Jesus for the gift of our faith in your resurrection. May we be witnesses of gospel joy and peace to others still searching and doubting. Amen”.
Fr. Jim Kirstein SMA – 2 April 2010