EASTER SUNDAY YEAR C
Theme: The Victory of Life
First Reading: Acts 10:34a.37-43;
Responsorial: Psalm 118 ;
Second Reading: Col 3:1-4;
Gospel: Jn 20:1-9;
*The Sunday Missal, Paulines Publications Africa
This is a reading taken from one of Peter’s homilies when he was speaking to a group of pagans. It summarises the whole Christian message in a few words, a synthesis of the teaching given to those who wanted to receive baptism.
First of all he mentions the main events in the life of Jesus. He was a real man who went around doing good and healing the sick (37-38). Peter stresses that the transformation of the world by Jesus was through the power of God, rather than through his preaching.
Then he tells them what the Jews did to this envoy from God. They killed him, nailing him to a cross. He then asked how God reacted to this human wickedness. He could not, says Peter, leave his faithful Servant in the grip of death, so he raised him from the dead. The mission of the disciples is that they become witnesses to all of this.
This reading is, first of all, an invitation to reflect on the fundamental truths of our faith which, more often than not, we confuse with its less important and even insignificant aspects, and then draws our attention to our mission as witnesses to the resurrection. What is a witness? A witness is a person who was present at an event, saw what happened, and listened to what was said.
The apostles were witnesses because they had been with Jesus, had eaten and drunk with him, had heard his teaching and had seen his miracles. How can we be witnesses to this?
To be Christ’s witnesses we have to undergo a resurrection, otherwise we should keep our mouths shut. Have we passed from death to life? Yes, in baptism. If our life from that moment onwards has really changed, that nothing of our old life remains, that we no longer hate or envy or get drunk and so on. Then we can truly be witnesses to the resurrection.
Writing to the Christians of Colossae, Paul reminds them that on the day of their baptism they were born to a new life, a life that would only reach its perfection and fulfilment in the world of God.
Faith in the next life is the difference between believers and atheists. Atheists think that we achieve salvation by relying on ourselves and that it is achieved in this world. But even if all our problems were solved, if we all had enough food, if pain and disease were defeated, the human heart would still have problems. We would still ask questions such as what is life all about. Why will I die? Where do I come from, where am I going? Only the Lord, dead and risen, can answer these questions.
Paul is not saying that Christians are to disregard and take no interest in the things of this world. We must work like everybody else, but we know that fullness of life cannot be achieved here on earth (2).
“On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning…” (1). There is silence over the whole earth. Only a woman, alone and in fear, moves in the darkness of the night.
There is a change of tempo when Mary sees the empty tomb. Everybody is stirred back to life, shaken out of their slumber. “Mary of Magdala ran and went to Simon Peter… 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…” (2-4). Life flares up once again; God has burst open the tomb.
From the very morning of Easter day God signals the start of a revolution brought about by the resurrection of Christ. In Jewish society women, like slaves and children were discriminated against. Now, through a woman, God announces to the world that death has been defeated.
The unnamed disciple appears at the start of John’s gospel and is always associated with Peter. He follows Christ before Peter does (1:35-40); he knows how to recognise who is for Jesus and who is against him. Peter is unable to make this distinction (13:15-27). He stays with Jesus throughout his passion. Peter denies him (18:15-27). John follows Jesus to Calvary; Peter runs away (19:25-27).
John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, “saw and believed,” whereas Peter just saw but did not come to faith in the resurrection (20:3-10). Confronted with death (the tomb, the linen cloths, the shroud) John recognises the victory of life.
On the sea of Tiberias, again it is this disciple who first recognises the man on the shore as the Risen Lord; Peter recognises him only later (21:7). When Peter is invited to follow Jesus, he hasn’t the courage to go alone, he wants “the disciple that Jesus loved” to be with him (21:20-25). Who does this person stand for? Why doesn’t he have a name? The reason is that each of us is expected to substitute that anonymity with our own name. We then understand what we have to do in order to live for Jesus.
There are many who think that to give one’s life means death. Others understand that a life given for others, as with Jesus, does not end with death, but leads to the fullness of life in God.
“We ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles
In those days: Peter opened his mouth and said, “You know the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
The word of the Lord.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad.
Give praise to the Lord, for he is good; his mercy endures forever. Let the house of Israel say, / “His mercy endures forever.”R.This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad.
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty deeds; his right hand is exalted. The Lord’s right hand has done mighty deeds.” I shall not die, I shall live and recount the deeds of the Lord. R.This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the Lord has this been done, / a marvel in our eyes. R.This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad.
“Seek the things that are above, where Christ is.”
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians
Brethren: If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.The word of the Lord.
Alleluia. Christ, our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed; let us, therefore, celebrate the festival in the Lord. Alleluia.
GOSPEL READING John 20:1-9
“He must rise from the dead.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went towards the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.The Gospel of the Lord.
*Adapted from: Celebrating the Word, Year C by Fernando Armellini— Paulines Publications Africa, Revised Edition 2007