The Gospel reading traditionally proclaimed on Easter Sunday is John 20: 1-9. In and of itself, this is a passage that is exciting and hopeful, yet puzzling and incomplete.
Mary Magdalene was startled when she found the stone rolled back from the tomb. She did not understand what had happened. It’s possible that she thought someone had stolen Jesus’ body. She runs to notify the disciples of her startling discovery. She finds Simon Peter and the beloved disciple. Remember that the last time we heard from Peter, on Good Friday, he had run off in tears after he had denied Jesus. So it’s good to see that he has rejoined the disciples!
Simon Peter and the beloved disciple entered the empty tomb and saw the burial cloths. John says that the beloved disciple “saw and believed.” Then the next verse says that “they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” The passage ends without any appearance of the risen Lord. The disciples believed, but did not understand. The passage is hopeful, yet still a mystery.
Maybe that’s where we are this Easter season. We believe in the resurrection, but we don’t understand. Even if we’ve been attending Easter Sunday Mass for many years, and believe in the resurrection, we still do not fully comprehend it in one day, or even in one lifetime. In faith, we believe that Easter celebrates God’s ultimate victory over sin and death. We celebrate this great day with joyful music, hymns of praise, and great feasting. We put on our best clothes as we go to church today. We welcome newcomers into the Church. Easter is the promise that, despite the sin and evil, despair, destruction and death in our world, we celebrate the Good News that the God of Life and Love has the final victory in hand.
Like a beautiful spring day, with flowers in bloom, take in all the joy today. As our Responsorial Psalm (118) proclaims: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!”