With Easter Sunday Mass, we now again sing loudly “Alleluia!” We can sing it every Sunday until the earth completes its annual journey around the sun again. With Easter, we are focused on a new kind of light, the light of Christ. Though our earth spins like a top through twenty-four-hour cycles of day and night, it is our faith which proclaims that this day that the Lord has made will not end.
Recall how the great step from chaos to creation opens the book of Genesis “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth …” Realize on Easter Sunday, we hear of a new beginning on earth when we learn that Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb in the darkness of a new “first day,” the day of the Resurrection.
On this new day Mary discovers the open tomb and reports this to Peter and John. Her message gives alarming news that does not sound good. The confused apostles Peter and John run to the place of burial to see for themselves. John arrives at the tomb first, and then waits for Peter. After Peter enters, John too enters into the empty tomb. Not much makes sense when they look. We know that it is not at all clear to Peter and John that Jesus “had to rise from the dead.” Before this new day has ended, however, Peter and John and the other disciples will all have encountered their risen Lord. Bear in mind it will take all the years Peter has left in his life to understand the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus.
That is what the New Testament readings help us ponder today. The speech Peter delivers at Cornelius’ house is a well-prepared talk. It gives evidence of a strong and clear grasp of the knowledge that according to scripture, God’s saving power in Jesus’ death and resurrection is for the whole earth and for all time, and also everyone who believes in the risen Christ will be forgiven their sins. In the second reading Paul explains to the Colossians that the message of Jesus is clear and simple. We have died with Christ. We will appear with him in glory.
Easter tells us that we have a new day and a new life. We can name those few privileged days that are truly new beginnings. There are so very few of them for any of us.
Easter is the first day of the rest of the life of the Church, to use a sort of sixties saying. It is a day for high celebration and quiet meditation. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad”: this refrain is really a poignant and profound thought for the day. The first day of the new creation began when Christ rose from the dead and shed peaceful light on all humankind. There is no end to this first day of the rest of our lives. The rest of our lives must bear witness to this.
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