A Happy and Blessed Easter to All Our Readers!

Peter Paul Rubens / Wikimedia Commons

Tonight's Gospel reading is Mark 16:1-7:

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him. Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large.

On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.’”


 The story continues at this morning's Masses in John 20:1-9:

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” 

So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

This evening, we will hear the story of Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35:

That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.

Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread. 


Once again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of our readers at Hot Air!

We have spent the last six weeks on our Lenten journey, and today we reach its completion. But our journey is actually far from over; the Lord calls us to walk with Him wherever we go. The tomb is empty and the veil torn in the Temple forever, because there is no separation for us any longer. Jesus does not want us to stand still but to keep moving along the path of salvation.

That aspect of the story of Emmaus has always intrigued me. Jesus goes to His disciples to help lift their spirits, but Luke's Gospel shows how Jesus chose to reveal Himself at the very beginning of His resurrection -- by going on the road with those who loved Him. He chose not to just jump out of the bushes and say, "Surprise!", but rather to walk with His friends to let them express their sorrow and concerns. Then He lifted their spirits by unlocking the meaning of the prophets and the scriptures, guiding them to the truth, before revealing Himself in the breaking of the bread.

This is a model of the Mass itself. We start with prayers and then journey through readings of scripture and then the Gospel itself. The priest, acting under the authority of Christ, explains the importance and application of what we have read to lift our own spirits and challenge us on our journey through life. When the priest breaks the bread during the consecration, Christ comes among us to fill us with the Holy Spirit through the Eucharist. And thus nourished, we are sent out to continue our journey to proclaim the Good News to the world -- just as the two men did after their encounter with Christ on the road to Emmaus.


And we know Jesus walks with us, through the Holy Spirit, because the tomb is empty and the veil torn forever. He is our Lord and our friend, accompanying us through our sorrow and pain, and lifting us up to choose His salvation. May we all open our hearts as the two men on the road did, and look for Jesus even in the depths of our mourning. 

The front-page image is "The Women at Christ's Empty Tomb," c. 1640, credited to the workshop of Peter Paul Rubens. In a private collection. Via Wikimedia Commons

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here.  

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