•Acts 10:34a, 37-43 • 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8  • John 20:1-9•
Weekly Readings :Easter Sunday
To prints a PDF of the homily click HERE.
What happened? No eyes witnessed the resurrection moment! Scholars do not agree, but the texts do! They were written for folks like us who believe Christ is risen! Truly he is risen!! The texts never describe the revival of his body. There are only witnesses of the “empty tomb” and the apparitions of the Risen One.
John weaves two experiences into this one text of our Easter gospel. There is the experience of “Mary.” There is the experience of “Peter and the other disciple.” They come to the tomb knowing Jesus was dead.
John begins his resurrection narratives with this significant statement. “It was early in the morning on the first day of the week, when it was still dark”.”
“The first day of the week.” John is telling us that in the Risen One the first day of “God’s new reality” has dawned. Mary, Peter and the other disciples were like so many who even today, as they celebrate Easter, do not realize the empty tomb announces God’s new creation. In the Risen One a transformed society, a new kind of existence is breaking into our current world!
“It was still dark.” Do you remember your own ambiguous feelings when someone really significant in your life died? Given the circumstances of his brutal and unjust execution, his closest companions were “in the dark,” confused. Surely, each wondered, “How? Why? Now what?” Those questions still bombard us as we try to comprehend our own national politics.
On that morning “Mary” went out alone with no apparent task in mind. The first thing she saw was “the stone was moved away from the entrance.” The sanctity of the tomb had been violated and his body is missing! She thinks the grave has been robbed. In the meantime, “Peter and the other disciple” ran to investigate. Peter entered the tomb. The first thing he saw was “the linen cloths lying there and the kerchief used to cover his head.” “The other disciple went into the tomb” took one look “and believed.” We are not told what he believed.
“The tomb is empty!” There was no body, deceased or resurrected.
The empty tomb proves nothing! It simply is a statement that the Risen One is alive and the source of new life possibilities.
Perhaps you remember the wonderful short story titled “The Little Prince.” The fox reminded the little prince: “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly … what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
It was their love for Jesus that brought Mary, Peter and the other disciple to the tomb.
“What is essential is invisible to the eye.” After Mary reported her experience to the others she returned to the tomb. This time she sees Jesus standing there but does not recognize him! She thinks he is the gardener until she hears him speak her name. It took time for her to sort out her confusion. Gradually love enabled her to see with the heart and recognize the Risen One.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.” So it is for us. Our belief that the Crucified One lives emboldens us to affirm the power of death is destroyed. Yes we still die, but the Risen One is the source of new life for us and for all. As our love expands outward and as more and more of us transcend our “false self,” war, violence, narcissism, exploitation or discrimination of any kind will end. A transformed society, a new kind of existence – “God’s new reality” is emerging.
Scholars do not agree, but the texts do! The tomb is the realm of death and “the tomb is empty!” Christ is risen. (truly he is risen).