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.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I firmly believe that you rose from the dead and now you are alive, seated at the right hand of the Father. You are the source of my hope and joy. You make every cross worth bearing, and you give me the true meaning of life. I thank you and I love you, for no-one else has love equal to yours.
Petition: Lord, enable me to live in a way that shows I have been touched and changed by your Passion, Death and Resurrection.
1. The Stone Had Been Moved Away from the Tomb. Christ is alive! If God is with us who is against us? St. Paul asked. Christ is alive for me; he died so that I might live. The cross is not the end. Looking at the cross without seeing the Resurrection would mean closing our life to grace, we would not be following the true Christ. When we see the stone rolled away from the tomb, we experience hope, knowing that Christ is able to conquer even death.
The stone was massive, put there not only to keep out animals but also grave-robbers. Its removal before Mary got there is a sign that God does the impossible, nevertheless it’s a sign Mary misinterprets thinking that in fact human hands had removed it. Her first message to the apostles is a human interpretation of God’s action. She thinks that the rolled-away stone meant that the dead Jesus has been taken away from us, whereas in reality it means Jesus has been given back to us, full of life. When we interpret the sacrifice of our Christian life in a human way all we see is death, all that Jesus seems to be taking from us, and we are tempted to think we are the worse off for having followed him. But when we let him talk and we listen to his true message we discover that reality is the opposite: Jesus takes away nothing, he gives us everything. That small death to ourselves that he asks of us is in reality the door to a greater, more abundant life.
2. Death, Where Is Your Sting? If we have been joined to him by dying a death like his, so we shall be given life again by a resurrection like his; realizing that our former self was crucified with him, so that the self which belonged to sin should be destroyed and we should be freed from the slavery of sin. (Romans 6:5-6) Christ rose from the dead so as to roll the stone away from our tomb, to erase our sin, to usher in grace and virtue. He rose from the dead so that we may have the grace to conquer our pride and vanity, our sloth and laziness, so as to be forever with him. Now all things are new. With Christ we have conquered death. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)
The real sting of death is the second death, eternal separation from God. And if all our hopes are centered on this life and if we have no horizon beyond the material then death also has the final laugh, the final victory. Both of these victories are snatched from death by Christ’s rising, for in rising he shows us the reality of life after death and the vanity of material things, thus allowing us to live the true dimension of our reality, and he also shows us that in him we have the source of grace to make death and entry into true life with him forever.
3. He Saw, and He Believed. Christ's Resurrection is more than a past event we commemorate; it is a present reality we believe in deeply. It’s a truth: a present, ongoing reality around which we re-order our lives and thoughts, commending our entire selves to God - mind, heart, will, and soul, submitting all of our faculties to him (cf. Dei Verbum, 5). John saw the linens in the tomb in their proper place, not thrown aside in a ball as they would have been if someone had removed them from the body. He realized Jesus had not been taken away, and he made the leap of faith: he saw and believed. God gave him the grace to believe in the Resurrection, and he didn’t hold onto his doubts but believed. Thus his sight of the linens in the tomb occasioned the change of his life from within The Resurrection has the power to do the same in our own lives. Belief is not blind or irrational, there is always a reason, or many, for believing; but faith also requires a letting go and trusting God completely.
And belief in the Resurrection is more than simply accepting that Christ rose from the dead. This belief compels me to make an effort in my own life to believe in what it can do for me, that I too can be transformed, that I too can be recognizable to others as one now living a life of virtue with God’s grace. Like St. Paul I too am called to say, It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20).
Conversation: Lord Jesus, you rose from the dead, and I want to rise with you. Let this celebration of your Resurrection to be one where I change, where I roll the stone back from the tomb of my life so as to let you work freely in me and through me, so you can change me to be more like you, living as I ought. With you I can do all things, and I believe that this Easter can make a difference in my life.
1. What is the stone I need to move, so that I can live a truly new life in Christ: Pride, Fear, Laziness?
2. Do I really, really believe in my own resurrection, and eternal life? Does this make any difference in my choices?
3. Do I relate to Jesus and deal with him as someone who lives?