Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
April 12, 2020 Cycle C

by Rev. Jose Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.B.
Chaplain, Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Christ is risen! He is truly risen! Alleluia!

Christ’s glorious resurrection is the center of our faith. When we recite the Creed, we say: “Four our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day.” Jesus Christ is alive, has triumphed over death and evil, and now fills all things with the fullness of his presence. Easter’s light illuminates the world!

When Mary Magdalene found Jesus’ tomb empty, she ran to tell the apostles Peter and John: “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they put him” (Jn 20:2). The two apostles immediately ran to the tomb and saw it was empty.

Like Mary Magdalene, Peter and John, we are experiencing the emptiness of the tomb this Easter, albeit in a radical way. In this empty church, I am celebrating an Easter Sunday Mass being live-streamed to people I cannot see. Our churches should be full of people and our houses full of family and friends. Instead, we have empty churches, empty streets and empty houses. Without the grace of the sacraments, our hearts feel empty. Not being able to receive the Eucharist has been a real trial for many of you and also for us called by Jesus to distribute the sacraments.

On the other hand, we have been learning so much these days! The emptiness reminds us of the void within us that nothing earthly can fill. Isolation has taught us, perhaps as never before, how vulnerable, dependent and powerless we are. The pandemic has reminded us of our mortality. Our fear of death can be paralyzing but our desire for life is even greater. We thirst for eternal life. Deprived of the spiritual nourishment of the sacraments, our hunger for God is overwhelming.

Our great challenge this Easter is to see the signs of the presence of the risen Lord in the emptiness of the tomb.  Saint John not only entered Jesus’ empty tomb but went further and saw that Jesus had, indeed, risen from the dead. The Gospel says: “He saw and believed” (Jn 20:8). Faith makes us pass from emptiness to fullness, from loneliness to communion, from absence to presence. In today’s second reading, Saint Paul says: “Seek what is above, where Christ is” (Col 3:1).

The great suffering in the world is afflicting us all but the light of Easter is greater than the darkness of the times. Now that the tomb is empty, Christ is present everywhere. We exalt in the Sanctus: “Heaven and earth are full of your glory.”

In today’s first reading, Saint Peter says: “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” (Acts 10:39–40). For those who have died, Christ is eternal life! For those who are suffering, Christ is consolation! For those who are afraid, Christ is peace! For those who feel lonely, Christ is friendship! For those who despair, Christ is hope! For those who are discouraged, Christ is courage! For those who sorrow, Christ is joy! As we joyfully exclaim in today’s psalm refrain: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is risen! He is truly risen! Alleluia!