EASTER: THE DAWN OF A RENEWED WORLD

Having briefly described that first Holy Week, and its lessons for us here and now, this article arrives at Easter and reflections on the experience of a renewed world. For, on that first Easter Sunday, the triumph of God quite literally shook the world. The women who had assisted in the burial of Jesus returned at dawn to complete the burial rites; for those rites had been rushed on Friday so that Jesus could be buried before the Sabbath. He had been buried in a cave hewn out of rock; and a colossal stone guarded the tomb, joined by a cohort of Roman soldiers. The women did not think that they could solve any problems. The Messiah had died; and even the completion of his burial would require the removal of a stone that they had not the strength to move. But love impelled them onwards all the same.

And then, an earthquake shook the earth and probably all of creation as Jesus rose from the dead. Angels then appeared at the tomb, not to release Jesus (for His risen body is no longer subject to barriers), but to reveal the empty tomb. The Roman soldiers, known for the courage and discipline, fled in terror at a power that they could not understand, much less control. The angels, however, welcomed the woman, announced the glorious news and called to bring the wondrous tidings to the other disciples. They did so, but the disciples had trouble believing until Peter and John came to the empty tomb; and the mystic John finally understood the words of Jesus that He would rise again. Jesus soon appeared to Mary Magdalene and then later in the day Peter, both models of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. He then came to the Apostles in the upper room, both remanding them for their lack of understanding, but also conferring on them not only healing from this weakness, but the ability to give to others the grace of God, absolution from sins, and the Gospel message.

These glorious events did not only occur long ago. For Jesus, now risen from the dead, is with us forever. The angels guide us in receiving this glorious news and bearing witness to the faith before the world. We receive Jesus in the sacraments and especially in the Eucharist and are His messengers to the world. We are, as the motto of Pope Francis says, forgiven and chosen.