Thứ Bảy, 15 tháng 4, 2017

APRIL 16, 2017 : THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD - THE MASS OF EASTER DAY

The Resurrection of the Lord
The Mass of Easter Day
Lectionary: 42

Peter proceeded to speak and said:
"You know what has happened all over Judea, 
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached, 
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil, 
for God was with him.
We are witnesses of 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.
This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He commissioned us to preach to the people
and testify that he is the one appointed by God
as judge of the living and the dead.
To him all the prophets bear witness,
that everyone who believes in him
will receive forgiveness of sins through his name."

Responsorial PsalmPS 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
R. (24) This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for 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 and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.
"The right hand of the LORD has struck with power;
the right hand of the LORD is exalted.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD."
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2COL 3:1-4
Brothers and sisters:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, 
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.

Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?
Clear out the old yeast,
so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, 
inasmuch as you are unleavened.
For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.
Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, 
not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, 
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Sequence — Victimae Paschali Laudes
Christians, to the Paschal Victim
Offer your thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeems;
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconciles sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:
The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.
Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw, wayfaring.
"The tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus' resurrection;
bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;
to Galilee he goes before you."
Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Amen. Alleluia.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed;
let us feast with joy in the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 20:1-9
On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark, 
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter 
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, 
"They have taken the Lord from the tomb, 
and we don't know where they put him."
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; 
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him, 
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, 
and the cloth that had covered his head, 
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in, 
the one who had arrived at the tomb first, 
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture 
that he had to rise from the dead.

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake; 
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, 
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.
Then the angel said to the women in reply,
"Do not be afraid!
I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples,
'He has been raised from the dead, 
and he is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him.'
Behold, I have told you."
Then they went away quickly from the tomb, 
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce this to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me."

At an afternoon or evening Mass.

That very day, the first day of the week, 
two of Jesus' disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them, 
"What are you discussing as you walk along?"
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
"Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?"
And he replied to them, "What sort of things?"
They said to him, 
"The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning 
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see."
And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?"
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, "Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over."
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
"Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?"
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
"The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!"
Then the two recounted 
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.


Easter Sunday

Note: Where a Scripture text is underlined in the body of this discussion, it is recommended that the reader look up and read that passage.

1st Reading - Acts 10:34a, 37-43

Assuming that Jesus’ crucifixion occurred in A.D. 30, Paul (Saul) was converted in A.D. 33 and came to Jerusalem from his preaching in Damascus around A.D. 36. If the Acts of the Apostles is arranged in chronological order, today’s event occurs after Paul’s meeting with Peter in Jerusalem. What we hear of today is the inauguration of the mission to the Gentiles. Cornelius, a Roman centurion of the Italian Regiment, has had a vision and in this vision an angel has told him to send to Joppa (Jaffa) and summon a man named Simon who is called Peter. About noon the following day, Peter also had a vision in which he saw heaven opened and all kinds of animals which he is told to kill and eat. Peter replies “Surely not, Lord! I have never eaten anything impure or unclean” so we can assume that the animals were considered by the Jews to be ritually unclean and therefore forbidden. The voice in Peter’s vision says “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This vision occurs three times and leaves Peter wondering what it means when Cornelius’ emissaries arrive. Peter accompanies the emissaries back to Cornelius and once Cornelius recounts his vision, Peter realizes the meaning of his own vision, saying “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” Cornelius has been expecting Peter and has called together is relatives and close friends; there is quite a crowd gathered.

34a Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, [“You know]

Peter presumes that these gentiles have heard the message of Christ; a message which he will repeat as his teaching. Some commentaries presuppose that “the people” do not know this story and that the comment “you know” (actually contained in verse 36) is addressed to the Christian reader of Acts; a presupposition which is unwarranted in my opinion.

37 what has happened all over Judea,

Judea is controlled by the Romans and all the goings-on there are familiar to the centurion.

beginning in Galilee

This is the same formula used by the Sanhedrin when they accused Jesus in front of Pilate (Luke 23:5).

after the baptism that John preached, 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.

See Luke 3:21-23.

He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and (in) Jerusalem.

All the way from Galilee to Jerusalem.

They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.

A figurative expression for crucifixion. Deuteronomy 21:23 says that anyone who is hanged on a tree is cursed by God. Jesus bore the curse of the covenant for us because we were unable to offer the perfect sacrifice which would atone for the sins of the people.

40 This man God raised

The resurrection is ascribed to the Father.

(on) the third day

The number three in Hebrew numerology is the number of completion. The world was formed in the first three days of creation and filled in the second three days of that same creation event (Genesis 1). Isaac was restored to life (resurrected) in the eyes of Abraham on the third day when God stopped the sacrifice and substituted a ram instead (Genesis 22:2-12).

and granted that he be visible, 41 not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance,

The witnesses to the resurrection were not indiscriminate or accidental.

who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

A true resurrection, a ghost does not eat and drink.

42    He commissioned us

Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18-20.

to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as

Up until this time, the actions of the Apostles have been restricted to the Jews; now Peter is addressing Gentiles for the first time.

judge of the living and the dead. 

This role of Jesus is presented again in Acts 17:31. This role will be exercised by the Risen Jesus, precisely as “the Christ”.

43    To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him

Belief is more than just acceptance, it is total commitment; not to a concept, but to Jesus Himself.

will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

The name is the authority. Jesus was given full authority by His Father and He gave that authority to the apostles and their successors. The ambassador speaks in the “name” of the one whom he represents. Remember the old police shows where they would say “Stop in the name of the law”? The policeman was invoking the authority which he represented.

2nd Reading - Colossians 3:1-4

This reading is a practical application of the teaching given in the earlier chapters of Colossians, designed to suit the circumstances that have arisen in the Colossian church.

By His death and resurrection the Son of God frees us from the power of Satan and of death. “By baptism men are grafted into the paschal mystery of Christ; they die with Him and rise with Him” (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 6).

In other words, Christians have been raised to a new kind of life, a supernatural life, whereby they share, even while on earth, in the glorious life of the risen Jesus. This life is at present spiritual and hidden, but when our Lord comes again in glory, it will become manifest and glorious.

Two practical consequences flow from this teaching – the need to seek the “things that are above”, that is, the things of God; and the need to pass unnoticed in one’s everyday work and ordinary life, yet to do everything with a supernatural purpose in mind. This means that those who try to seek holiness by imitating Jesus in His hidden life will be people full of hope; they will be optimistic and happy people; and after their death they will share in the glory of the Lord: they will hear Jesus’ praise, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21).

1    If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,

This contrasts “things that are above” and “things that are on the earth”.

where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

Taken from Psalm 110:1, this shows His position of Lordship and complete victory.

2    Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. 3 For you have died,

In baptism, we die to sin and are raised in Christ.

and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

The Christian is no longer attached to the material things of this life, but to the spiritual things of a life in Christ.

4 When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

Although St. Paul’s main emphasis throughout has been on the present resurrection with Christ in baptism, this is a reference to the future resurrection at the end of time.

Alternate 2nd Reading - 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8

Unlike the Gospels, where leaven is a symbol of the inner dynamism of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20-21), St. Paul here uses it as a metaphor for the corruptive influence of evil (Galatians 5:9). St. Paul uses examples taken from the Jewish celebration of the Passover and feast of unleavened bread. The Passover is the principal Jewish feast, and its central rite is the eating of the Passover lamb. At the Passover meal, and on the 7 days following, which were also feast days (the feast of unleavened bread), the eating of leavened bread was forbidden. In Exodus 12:15,19 God laid it down that during these days no leaven should be kept in Jewish homes.

6b Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?

The little yeast which is added to the dough doesn’t cause pimples on the loaf, it causes the entire loaf to rise.

7 Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.

A reference to the feast of unleavened bread, of which the Passover was the first day. It represents a new beginning.

8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The Church is always engaged in a Paschal celebration, because Christ by His death and resurrection has accomplished the salvation foreshadowed in the Exodus. We are lead from slavery to sin into the promised eternal kingdom and during our journey we are sustained by the bread which comes down from heaven, the Eucharist. Sincerity (single-mindedness or purity of intention) and truthfulness should distinguish the Christian.

Gospel - John 20:1-9


None of the Evangelists describes the actual resurrection itself, for it was witnessed by no one. The gospels and 1 Corinthians 15:4-7 witness to the fact of the resurrection, however, by the testimony to the empty tomb and the appearances of the Risen Christ to His disciples. It is fitting that on Easter morning we should hear an account of what happened on that first Easter morning as Mary Magdalene went to the tomb.

1    On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.

All the Gospel accounts are in substantial agreement concerning the time when the tomb was first found to be empty, before dawn on Sunday morning. Mary Magdalene is named also by Matthew and Mark along with companions; Luke gives no names but speaks of “women” in the plural. In this verse John seems to make it appear that Mary Magdalene was alone but this is not necessarily the case as we will see in the next verse.

2    So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved,

Mark 16:7 relates that the women were told to announce the resurrection to Peter and the other disciples; John is the only evangelist to single out the beloved disciple (himself).

and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”

The fact that she say “we don’t” would make it appear that She wasn’t alone at the tomb, but was in fact accompanied by other women.

3    So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. 4 They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; 5 he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.

No reason is given for John’s remaining outside the tomb; given the amazing/distressing news that he and Peter had come to investigate. It is assumed that he did not enter because Peter was the leader of the apostles and as such it was his responsibility to lead the investigation.

6    When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,

The Greek participle translated here seems to indicate that the wrappings were flattened, deflated, as if they were emptied when the body of Jesus rose and disappeared – as if it had come out of the wrappings without their being undone, passing right through them (just as He later entered the Upper Room when the doors were shut). One can readily understand how this would amaze a witness, how unforgettable the scene would be.

7    and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.

This head cloth would have been tied, rolled like a triangular bandage, under the chin and over the top of the head to secure the mouth in a closed position. The first point to note is that it was not with the other wrappings, but placed to one side. The second, even more surprising thing is that, unlike the clothes, it still has a certain volume, like a container, possibly due to the stiffness given it by the ointments: this is what the Greek participle, here translated as “rolled”, seems to indicate. From these details concerning the empty tomb one deduces that Jesus’ body must have risen in a heavenly manner, that is, in a way which transcended the laws of nature. It was not only a matter of the body being reanimated as happened, for example, in the case of Lazarus, who had to be unbound before he could walk (see John 11:44). 
8    Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. 9 For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.  

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, MS http://www.scborromeo.org



Meditation: "John saw the empty tomb and believed"
What was it like for the disciple who had stood at the cross of Jesus and then laid him in a tomb on Good Friday, to come back three days later and discover that the sealed tomb was now empty? John, along with Peter, was the first apostle to reach the tomb of Jesus on Easter Sunday morning. Like Mary Magdalene and the other disciples, John was not ready to see an empty tomb and to hear the angel's message, Why do you seek the living among the dead (Luke 24:5)?  What did John see in the tomb that led him to believe in the resurrection of Jesus? It was certainly not a dead body. The dead body of Jesus would have disproven the resurrection and made his death a tragic conclusion to a glorious career as a great teacher and miracle worker. When John saw the empty tomb he must have recalled Jesus' prophecy that he would rise again after three days. Through the gift of faith John realized that no tomb on earth could contain the Lord and giver of life. John saw and believed (John 20:8).
John had to first deal with the empty tomb before he could meet the risen Lord later that evening along with the other apostles who had locked themselves in the upper room out of fear of the Jewish authorities (John 20:19-23). John testified as an eye-witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ: What we have seen, heard, and touched we proclaim as the eternal word of life which existed from the beginning (1 John 1:1-4). John bears witness to what has existed from all eternity. This "word of life" is Jesus the word incarnate, but also Jesus as the word announced by the prophets and Jesus the word now preached throughout the Christian church for all ages to come.
One thing is certain, if Jesus had not risen from the dead and appeared to his disciples, we would never have heard of him. Nothing else could have changed sad and despairing men and women into people radiant with joy and courage. The reality of the resurrection is the central fact of the Christian faith. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord gives us "eyes of faith" to know him and the power of his resurrection. The greatest joy we can have is to encounter the living Christ and to know him personally as our Lord and Savior. Do you accept the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection with skeptical doubt and disbelief or with trusting faith and joyful wonderment?
"Lord Jesus Christ, you have triumphed over the grave and you have won for us new life and resurrection power. Give me the eyes of faith to see you in your glory. Help me to draw near to you and to grow in the knowledge of your great love for us and your great victory over sin and death."
A Daily Quote for the Easter seasonThe Womb of the Earth Gives Birth, by Hesychius of Jerusalem, died around 450 A.D.
"Hidden first in a womb of flesh, he sanctified human birth by his own birth. Hidden afterward in the womb of the earth, he gave life to the dead by his resurrection. Suffering, pain and sighs have now fled away. For who has known the mind of God, or who has been his counselor if not the Word made flesh who was nailed to the cross, who rose from the dead and who was taken up into heaven? This day brings a message of joy: it is the day of the Lord's resurrection when, with himself, he raised up the race of Adam. Born for the sake of human beings, he rose from the dead with them. On this day paradise is opened by the risen one, Adam is restored to life and Eve is consoled. On this day the divine call is heard, the kingdom is prepared, we are saved and Christ is adored. On this day, when he had trampled death under foot, made the tyrant a prisoner and despoiled the underworld, Christ ascended into heaven as a king in victory, as a ruler in glory, as an invincible charioteer. He said to the Father, 'Here am I, O God, with the children you have given me.' And he heard the Father’s reply, 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool' (Psalm 110:1)." To him be glory, now and for ever, through endless ages. Amen. [excerpt from EASTER HOMILY 5–6]
Hesychius of Jerusalem was a priest and a Scripture scholar who worked with Jerome and Cyril of Jerusalem. He wrote a commentary on the whole Bible.He died around 450 AD.

SOLEMNITY OF EASTER SUNDAY OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD
SUNDAY, APRIL 16, JOHN 28:1-9 or MATTHEW 28:1-10

(Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4 (or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8)

KEY VERSE: "He saw and believed" (v.8).
TO KNOW: The night was over and the morning light of the new creation was beginning to dawn. In the garden of the resurrection, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb while it was still dark, grieving over the death of her beloved Lord. When she discovered that the stone closing the entrance to the tomb had been rolled away, she feared that the body of Jesus had been stolen. Mary ran to tell Peter and John, and the two disciples raced to the tomb to see for themselves. John (the "disciple whom Jesus loved," Jn 20:2), arrived first and peered into the empty tomb. The shroud was still there; the body had not been stolen. Then John allowed Peter, the elder Apostle, to enter the tomb first and see for himself. Peter was slow to understand the meaning of the empty tomb, but John was convinced of Christ's resurrection; he "saw and believed" (v.8). Like John, we see no physical evidence of the Risen Christ, yet we know in faith that he is alive in the world and in the hearts of all who believe in him.
TO LOVE: Where will I discover the Risen Lord today?
TO SERVE: Risen Lord, thank you for bringing your light into the darkness of our world.
NOTE: Following an ancient tradition, the Church regards the eight days (an octave) from the Paschal Feast of the Resurrection to the Second Sunday of Easter as a single unit of celebration. The preface for Easter day is prayed again on the Second Sunday of Easter even though it is a week behind us: "We praise you with greater joy than ever on this Easter day." The celebration of the liturgy is full of joy at the close of the octave of this great feast! The Easter season of 50 days continues through the Seventh Sunday of Easter (Celebrated as the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord in some dioceses).


Easter Blessings! Alleluia!

Following an ancient tradition, the Church regards the eight days (an octave) from the Paschal feast to the Second Sunday of Easter as a single unit of celebration. The preface for Easter day is prayed again on the Second Sunday even though it is a week behind us: "We praise you with greater joy than ever on this Easter day." The celebration of the liturgy is full of joy at the close of the octave of this greatest feast! The Easter season of 50 days continues through the Feast of Pentecost.

Sunday 16 April 2017

Easter Sunday.
‘Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.’ John 20:9
I have been travelling with Jesus since the Transfiguration, from the mountain to Jerusalem. Slowly I understand that Jesus is the one who embraces all human suffering with an overwhelming divine love. After the death of my beloved, however, I am bereft again. I understand nothing. And now there is strange news.
In the Gospel of John the resurrection occurs in several stages, preparing the reader for the improbable fulfillment of impossible hope. The first stage is Mary Magdalene’s discovery that the tomb is empty. She runs to Peter and another disciple and they rush back to the tomb, but the men see only the linen cloths. They begin to wonder about the possibility of resurrection and go back home. Mary stays by the tomb, still weeping, and when she goes into the tomb she sees angels. Gradually I am being introduced to the impossible. Mary then sees the risen Lord, but does not recognise him. This is the stage I am at. Then Jesus calls Mary by her name and she suddenly knows this is the Lord. Intuitively, she makes sudden sense of all the long discourses in the Gospel of John. She goes to tell the good news to the disciples and becomes forever the apostle of the resurrection. What happiness! What surprise! What hope! Alleluia! The Lord is truly risen!

EASTER SUNDAY

Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year.
To have a correct idea of the Easter celebration and its Masses, we must remember that it was intimately connected with the solemn rite of baptism. The preparatory liturgical acts commenced on the eve and were continued during the night. When the number of persons to be baptized was great, the sacramental ceremonies and the Easter celebration were united. This connection was severed at a time when, the discipline having changed, even the recollection of the old traditions was lost. The greater part of the ceremonies was transferred to the morning hours of Holy Saturday.
Commemorating the slaying of the true Lamb of God and the Resurrection of Christ, the corner-stone upon which faith is built, it is also the oldest feast of the Christian Church, as old as Christianity, the connecting link between the Old and New Testaments.

The connection between the Jewish Passover and the Christian feast of Easter is real and ideal. Real, since Christ died on the first Jewish Easter Day; ideal, like the relation between type and reality, because Christ's death and Resurrection had its figures and types in the Old Law, particularly in the paschal lamb, which was eaten towards evening of the 14th of Nisan. In fact, the Jewish feast was taken over into the Christian Easter celebration; the liturgy (Exsultet) sings of the passing of Israel through the Red Sea, the paschal lamb, the column of fire, etc.

The connection between the Jewish and the Christian Pasch explains the movable character of this feast. Easter has no fixed date, like Christmas, because the 15th of Nisan of the Semitic calendar was shifting from date to date on the Julian calendar. Since Christ, the true Paschal Lamb, had been slain on the very day when the Jews, in celebration of their Passover, immolated the figurative lamb, the Jewish Christians in the Orient followed the Jewish method, and commemorated the death of Christ on the 15th of Nisan and His Resurrection on the 17th of Nisan, no matter on what day of the week they fell. For this observance they claimed the authority of St. John and St. Philip. 

LECTIO DIVINA: THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD (A)
Lectio Divina:  Sunday, April 16, 2017

Jesus’ resurrection
He is living among us
John 20, 1-9
1. Opening prayer
 Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.
Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.
2. Reading
a) A key to guide the reading:
Let us read the text where the evangelist seeks to tell the readers the meaning of faith in the resurrection. He seeks to do this by means of the visit of the two disciples to the empty tomb and the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene. While reading, let us pay attention to the details of the story as told in the Gospel of John who presents a very deep symbolic dimension.
b) A division of the text to assist a careful reading:
Jn 20, 1-3: the disturbing experience of the empty tomb
Jn 20, 4-10: Peter and the beloved disciple run to the sepulchre: the beloved disciple saw and believed
Jn 20, 11-18: Jesus shows himself first to Mary Magdalene and gives her a command.
c) The text:
1-3: It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,' she said, 'and we don't know where they have put him.' So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb.
4-10: They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter, following him, also came up, went into the tomb, saw the linen cloths lying on the ground and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the John 20, 1-9other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had still not understood the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home.
11-18: But Mary was standing outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, as she wept, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet. They said, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' 'They have taken my Lord away,' she replied, 'and I don't know where they have put him.' As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?' Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.' Jesus said, 'Mary!' She turned round then and said to him in Hebrew, 'Rabbuni!' -- which means Master. Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' So Mary of Magdala told the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord,' and that he had said these things to her.
3. A moment of prayerful silence
so that the Word of God may enter into us and enlighten our life.
4. Some questions
to help us in our personal reflection.
a) What struck you in this text that describes the first experience of the resurrection?
b) The beloved disciple went in, saw and believed. What did he see and what led him to believe? Why is it that the text tells us only the reaction of the beloved disciple and not that of Peter?
c) What changes take place in Mary Magdalene during the dialogue? How did this change happen?
d) What mission or command does Jesus give Mary Magdalene?
e) Mary Magdalene was seeking Jesus in one way and meets him in another. How does this occur in our lives?
f) To see and believe. The beloved disciple saw and believed. What is it that leads me to believe that Jesus is alive, that he is present in our midst, today, giving new life to the poor?
g) Have you gone through an experience of loss or death? What gave you new life or new hope and the joy of life? What is it that I say when I affirm, "I believe in the resurrection"?
5. A key to the reading

for those who wish to go deeper into the text.
a) In John’s Gospel, faith in the resurrection is encountered in the description of the passion and death of Jesus:
* In describing the passion and death of Jesus, John’s Gospel wants to point out not the sentence passed on a political subversive, but the hour for glorifying the Son of God. During the whole process that carries Jesus to his death, he is master of what happens to himself and to his adversaries. For John, the cross is synonymous with "lifting", rising on high, to be with the Father (Jn 3,14; 8,28; 12,32-34). It is the beginning of the resurrection that is revealed fully on the first day of the week (Jn 20,1). That is why in John’s Gospel there is no agony in the garden (Jn 18,1-2). When Jesus is in prison, the soldiers are frightened when Jesus says: "I am he!" (Jn 18,6). When Jesus is dying, he does not cry out like in the other Gospels. Serenely he takes leave of his friends, of his mother, and then expires (Jn 19,28-30).
* The story of the passion is another more concrete example of the fact that John does not simply relate historical facts, but puts them through an X-Ray. He tries to show that which the facts hide. When Pilate, Hanna, the Jewish and Roman authorities try to end Jesus’ life, in truth they were allowing Jesus to be elevated towards God. From his prison, Jesus directs events and gives his life. "I lay down my life of my own free will, and as it is in my power to lay it down, so it is in my power to take it up again. No one takes it from me, I lay it down of my own free will" (Jn 10,17-18). All can set their minds at rest and be full of hope because Jesus has overcome and has been glorified by the Father (Jn 17,5).
b) Peter and the beloved disciple go the empty tomb (vv. 1-10):
* The experience of the resurrection of the early community was a long process, an experience that grew slowly like the growth of a strong tree. At first, many did not believe in the witness of those who had experienced the living presence of Jesus (Mt 28,17; Mk 16,11.13.14; Lk 24,11.36.41; Jn 20,25). But the experience of the resurrection expressed in the form of apparitions was so strong, so deep and so convincing that it succeeded in overcoming human unbelief confronted with the possibility of the victory of life over death.
* The women were more faithful than the men. They were the first to believe in the Good News of the resurrection (Mt 28,9-10; Lk 24,4-11; Jn 20,11-18). Confronted by the news of Mary Magdalene who sees the empty tomb, Peter and the beloved disciple run to the tomb. The Gospel relates the strange news according to which "the other disciple" ran faster than Peter and arrived first at the tomb, but did not go in. He looked inside and saw the bandages on the ground. After he went in he saw also the folded shroud to one side. The Gospel then says, "He saw and believed!" But nothing is said of Peter’s reaction although it was he who had gone first into the empty tomb. At the end, the Gospel adds, "Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead" (Jn 20,9). This means that the Old Testament on its own does not communicate a complete understanding of that which it contains. The light for understanding the real meaning of the Old Testament appears at the very moment when the beloved disciple "saw and believed". His experience of the resurrection was like a light that struck the eyes of the disciples and revealed to them the complete and full meaning of the Old Testament. It is this light to the sight that liberates the words of the Old Testament.
* A comparison to understand the change. In a circle of friends, someone showed a photo where there was a man with a harsh face, with the finger raised, almost assaulting the public. All thought that he was an inflexible person, unpleasant, who distanced himself from others. At that moment, a boy arrived and said, "This is my father!" The others looked at him and said, "A harsh father, then!’ The boy replied, "No, no, no! He is very loving. My father is a lawyer. That photo was taken in court when he was denouncing the crime of a landowner who wanted to dispossess a poor family of some unused land that they owned for a long time! My father won the case. The poor family was not deprived of its land!" All looked at the photo again and said, "What a beautiful photo!" Almost by miracle, a light was shed on the photo and it assumed a new look. That harsh face became bathed in great tenderness! The words of the son changed everything, while changing nothing! The words and actions of Jesus, born of his experience as son, received and raised by the Father, without changing one letter or comma, changed the whole meaning of the Old Testament (Mt 5,17-18). The same God, who seemed so distant and harsh, took on the traits of a good Father, full of tenderness!
c) Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene:
* Mary Magdalene was one of the few who had the courage to stay with Jesus until the time of his death on the cross. She goes back to the tomb to be where she had been with the Beloved for the last time. She looks for Jesus with whom she had lived for the last three years. The disciples from Emmaus will see Jesus, but will not recognise him (Lk 24,15-16). The same thing happens to Mary Magdalene. She sees Jesus, but does not recognise him. She thinks he is the gardener. But she is looking for the Jesus of the past, the same as he was three days previously. The image of Jesus as he was stops her from recognising the living Jesus, present before her.
* Jesus pronounces the name "Mary!" This was the signal for her to recognise him: the same voice, the same manner of saying the name. She replies, "Master!" Jesus has come back, and it was the same Jesus who had died on the cross. Her first impression is that death was just a painful incident along the way, and that now all was back as it was before. Mary embraces Jesus strongly. It was the same Jesus she knew.
* In fact, it is the same Jesus, but the manner of being with her is not the same. Jesus says to her, "Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father!" He will go to the Father. Mary Magdalene must leave Jesus and take on her mission: to announce to the brothers that Jesus has ascended to the Father. Jesus opened the way for us and brought God close to us again.
* The way the apparition of Jesus to Mary Magdalene is described makes us realise the stages of the journey she has to go through, from the painful search to the new encounter of Easter. These too are the stages we all have to go through in our lives, the search for God by living the Gospel.
6. Psalm 27 (26)
God is my victory
Yahweh is my light and my salvation,
whom should I fear?
Yahweh is the fortress of my life,
whom should I dread?
When the wicked advance against me
to eat me up,
they, my opponents, my enemies,
are the ones who stumble and fall.
Though an army pitch camp against me,
my heart will not fear,
though war break out against me,
my trust will never be shaken.
One thing I ask of Yahweh,
one thing I seek:
to dwell in Yahweh's house
all the days of my life,
to enjoy the sweetness of Yahweh,
to seek out his temple.
For he hides me away under his roof
on the day of evil,
he folds me in the recesses of his tent,
sets me high on a rock.
Now my head is held high
above the enemies who surround me;
in his tent I will offer sacrifices of acclaim.
I will sing, I will make music for Yahweh.
Yahweh, hear my voice as I cry,
pity me, answer me!
Of you my heart has said, 'Seek his face!'
Your face, Yahweh, I seek;
do not turn away from me.
Do not thrust aside your servant in anger,
without you I am helpless.
Never leave me, never forsake me,
God, my Saviour.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
Yahweh will gather me up.
Yahweh, teach me your way,
lead me on the path of integrity
because of my enemies;
do not abandon me to the will of my foes
-- false witnesses have risen against me,
and are breathing out violence.
This I believe: I shall see the goodness of Yahweh,
in the land of the living.
Put your hope in Yahweh, be strong,
let your heart be bold, put your hope in Yahweh.
7. Final Prayer
Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.