Acts 10:34,37-43 + Col 3:1-4 + Jn 20:1-9
April 21, 2019
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
Easter is not just the single day of Easter Sunday, but a season of seven weeks plus one more day. The Church celebrates Easter for fifty days in order to ponder thoroughly the mysteries of this holiest season of the Church’s year. There are three mysteries of our Faith that the Church gives special attention to during Eastertide. They are the first three Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. Here, consider just the first and third. Consider how they relate to each other.
The First Glorious Mystery is the proper focus of today: the Resurrection. This mystery is presented by today’s Gospel passage, where the young apostle John serves as a model of how to ponder.
St. John, called by God to serve the Church as both apostle and evangelist, accomplished all he did because he was the Beloved Disciple. As an apostle and evangelist, he was like a zealous Martha. But first he was a faithful Mary. At the Last Supper he took the stance that the sister Mary did at the meal in her home: sitting, listening at the feet of the Word made Flesh.
In many churches, we see above the high altar the youngest of the apostles—St. John the Beloved Disciple—standing to one side of the Cross, and our Blessed Mother to the other. This is the scene of the Crucifixion that the Church celebrated just days ago.
But on the third day, it was with St. Peter that John ran to the tomb. Along with Saint Peter and the Beloved Disciple, we see the wrappings lying on the ground. But do we see as John saw? John saw and believed. With no sign of Jesus and without a word from Jesus, John saw and believed because the tomb was empty.
It’s ironic that on the greatest feast of the Christian year, Christ doesn’t even appear in the Gospel passage, nor speak a word. We see only His empty tomb, and hear only silence. But we might consider that this emptiness and silence are an invitation to greater faith, and through faith, an even greater gift. This is where we ought to look at the end of Eastertide.
St. John teaches us to pray during these fifty days of Easter for a great gift. God has a gift ready for us: the Gift of the Holy Spirit. The first 49 days of Eastertide are days of preparation for the feast of Pentecost. Christ rises on Easter Sunday in His risen and glorified Body. Likewise, on the feast of Pentecost His Mystical Body—the Church—rises through the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ rises in His glorified Body at the Ascension to make way for His Mystical Body, so that His disciples may be more than followers. Through the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ followers become members of His Mystical Body, and share in His earthly mission.
It’s with this end in mind—the end of Pentecost—that the Church proclaims at every Mass of Eastertide a passage from Acts of the Apostles. Acts is the New Testament book that describes the Church at work through the Power of the Holy Spirit. The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is the culminating mystery of Eastertide. We don’t simply celebrate it on the last day of Easter as an afterthought. Pentecost is the mystery that Jesus leads us towards through His Resurrection and Ascension. So make your celebration of Easter this year a time of seeking and imploring the Holy Spirit. Do this in order to be not just a follower of Jesus, but a member of His Mystical Body, sharing in His very life.
click HERE to hear Scott Hahn’s reflection for Easter Sunday (2:59)
click HERE to hear Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homily for Easter Sunday (16:39)
click HERE to watch Jeff Cavins’ reflection for Easter Sunday (4:41)
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click HERE to read Pope Francis’ 2016 Easter Vigil homily
click HERE to read Pope Emeritus Benedict’s 2010 Easter Vigil homily
click HERE to read St. John Paul II’s 2001 Easter Vigil homily
The link at the top of the post goes to the Mass readings for Easter Sunday. For the Easter Vigil readings, click HERE.