Each one of our four canonical gospels ends with stories of the discovery of the empty tomb and accounts of appearances of the risen Jesus. Throughout the first week of the Easter period the gospel at Mass is taken from this material. Today we read John’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb. The account gives a prominent role to Mary Magdalene, who becomes known by Christians as ‘the apostle to the apostles’. It is she who discovers the empty tomb and passes on the news. Why is it empty? She will know why when Jesus appears to her later in the chapter.
The disciple whom Jesus loves, thought to be the author of the account, is convinced of the resurrection without even seeing the risen Jesus. It is sufficient for him to see that the body of Jesus no longer lies in the tomb. The later appearance of Jesus to the eleven disciples will confirm what he already knows.
Christian faith proclaims: ‘Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again!’ Without the resurrection, the real rising of Jesus to new life in a transformed and glorified body, there would be no good news to proclaim. The God of love is more powerful than death and sin, and God has shown this in raising Jesus, who became a victim of sin, to the life of the resurrection. The world is in dire need of news that is true, amid so many messages which are false, undermining and deceptive. True hope lies in the God who raised Jesus from the dead.
Do I appreciate the fundamental significance of the resurrection of Jesus?
Do I have the vision to see the wonders God works in each human life?
We pray for those baptised and those received into the Catholic Church this Easter.
We pray for Christians for whom the cross is a daily and painful reality, that they will know that the risen Christ is at their side.