Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Peter opened his mouth and said, "You know waht 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,
who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him. We are witnesses of everything he did both in the
country of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they also killed, hanging him
on a tree. God raised him up the third day, and gave him to be revealed,
not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen before by God,
to us, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He charged
us to preach to the people and to testify that this is he who is appointed
by God as the Judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify
about him, that through his name everyone who believes in him will receive
forgiveness of sins."
If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that
are above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind
on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth.
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ,
our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory.
Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went early, while
it was still dark, to the tomb, and saw the stone taken away from the tomb.
So she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus
loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb,
and we don't know where they have laid him!" So Peter and the other
disciple went out, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran together.
The other disciple outran Peter, and came to the tomb first. Stooping and
looking in, he saw the linen cloths lying, yet he didn't enter in. Then
Simon Peter came, following him, and entered into the tomb. He saw the
linen cloths lying, and the cloth that had been on his head, not lying
with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself. So then the
other disciple who came first to the tomb also entered in, and he saw and
believed. For as yet they didn't know the Scripture, that he must rise
from the dead.
longtime national and international activist in the peace movement, Bishop
Gumbleton is a founding member of Pax Christi USA and an outspoken critic
of the sanctions against Iraq.
has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, and has published
numerous articles and reports.
** Scripture texts in this
work are in modified form from the American Standard Version of the Bible
and are available as part of the public domain.
For your convenience, the
Scripture texts, as they appear in the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the
Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright ©
1998, 1997, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C.,
may be found at the website of the United States Conference of Catholic
|I donít know how many of us have ever taken
the time to read the accounts of the resurrection in the four different
gospels and then tried to compare them with one another. If youíve ever
done that, youíve discovered that thereís a great deal of confusion about
what happened that Easter Sunday morning. In one gospel, you hear
one thing. In another gospel, itís another. Sometimes, people
have a hard time with that thinking, and that maybe the gospel writers
contradicted one another. But if the gospel is suppose to be the
true story about Jesus, how do you explain all these contradictions?
It becomes very clear to us, if we understand how these gospels came to
It wasnít until about maybe 40 to 50 years
after Jesus had been tortured, crucified, buried, and then rose from the
dead that anybody began to sit down and write what they remembered of that
experience. So as the different disciples were looking back and remembering
what had happened on that first Easter morning, one disciple would remember
it one way and another disciple would remember it another way; as
anyone of us would do if we experienced something as extraordinary as someone
being raised from the dead.
But not only was it what they remembered that
they were trying to share, but also how this affected them and how they
reacted to what had happened. They were trying to let us know that
it was totally extraordinary, beyond anything in their human experience.
One disciple wrote that it happened at dawn
as the sun began to rise; a new day. This is a very beautiful symbol
of what happened; Jesus is raised from the dead. Itís a new time,
a new day.
But another disciple remembers that it was
in darkness. That also becomes a very powerful symbol of what really
took place that day. Jesus is the light of the world; he destroys
darkness and brings forth light and life. Our Easter candle is a
symbol of that reality that Jesus is our light and the light for the whole
world to guide us, to show us how to live and how to reach fulfillment
in this world and in heaven.
One of the disciples describes an earthquake
happening; nobody else mentions that. But in the scriptures thatís
a very typical symbol of God acting with power.
So they wanted us to realize how powerful this
God is who raises Jesus from the dead. It exceeds any kind of human
power, obviously. And so you have, throughout the different accounts
of the resurrection, all these varieties of symbols and remembrances.
One of the most beautiful accounts of the resurrection
is what we just heard in todayís gospel about Mary Magdalene. She
remembers how Jesus is alive. Even more important, he is still her
friend. Mary Magdalene had been a very special friend of Jesus when
he was walking the earth. Sometimes, you might think that death ends
a friendship, but it doesnít. And thatís what Mary Magdalene is getting
across to us. She was really upset because she couldnít find the
body of Jesus. But then, suddenly, she experiences Jesus present
to her in that special way of a close friend, someone who really loves
her and who allowed her to love him in a very human way. They were
friends in the deepest sense of that word.
This helps us to remember that those who have
gone before us into everlasting life are still our friends. We loved them
in this world and still love them, and our friendships will endure forever.
We canít break those bonds of friendship, even by death.
The one thing that is common in all of the
gospel accounts of the resurrection is that the disciples are trying to
share with us the fundamental truth, regardless of how they experienced
it, that Jesus is alive and present in this world. They knew, in
a very deep way, deep in their hearts and in their spirits, and experienced
Jesus present to them.
Thatís what each of us, too, has to try to
do this Easter Sunday. In the quiet of our own hearts, in our prayers,
through our singing, through this whole celebration, through the faith
that we share with one another, we must come to a deeper realization that
Jesus is alive and is with us and has never really left this world.
Heís among us.
As we begin to experience that in our own heart
and spirit, then we can also think about those from our family and those
of our friends who have died - those who were very close to us in life
Ė that they are still alive. Thatís what the resurrection of Jesus
means for every person; that we never really die and that those who have
gone before us into everlasting life are alive.
So we can think about maybe my mother or my
father, brother or sister, or a very close friend, a husband, a wife, or
a child, whoís gone from this world but is alive. We can connect
with them through Jesus whose life each of us shares.
And so the resurrection of Jesus is something
that gives each of us a very special spirit of joy and of hope. We
know Jesus is alive and that all of those who have died in Jesus are also
alive and with us.
Thereís one final thing that we can reflect
on in the time of the resurrection. We remember on the cross that
Jesusí body was torn, crushed, and that he had been tortured in a very
terrible way. His body was a wreck in a sense. But then, suddenly,
when the disciples experienced Jesus - and it really was Jesus - he was
transformed; a whole new way of living, still Jesus - fully human and also
divine - but transformed. And thatís the gift that will happen to
every one of us. No matter how much we must suffer or what happens
to us in this life, or whatever happens to those who are close to us, we
can know that we will be transformed into a new life, a new way of being.
A very dramatic way of trying to understand
this and to share with you is something that I read about from Elie Wiesel.
As you may remember, heís a famous Jewish novelist whose whole family was
destroyed in the Holocaust. He was the only one that was not put
to death; he was just a child at the time. He tells a story about
a time in one of those concentration camps when a prisoner had escaped.
The guards at the camp, so as to teach a lesson, took and hung a child
and made everybody in the camp look upon this as it was happening - this
tiny child being hanged, being put to death. And one prisoner cried
out with great bitterness, ďWhere is God, where is God?Ē And then
another prisoner said, ďThere is God, hanging.Ē
The truth that comes through this is that God
is with us in our worst moments. In the most terrible things that
can happen to us, God is there experiencing that in Jesus. Yes, there is
God in the worst suffering and in the worst tragedy. God was in the World
Trade towers back in September and God is in those terrible incidents that
are happening in the Middle East. God is suffering with people everywhere.
But, also, because Jesus is raised from the
dead, every one of those people will be transformed. That little
child is now transformed, living with God in heaven because of Jesus.
All those people in the World Trade towers have risen to new life in Jesus.
Theyíre transformed. No matter what happens to any one of us throughout
our lives, no matter how difficult it becomes at times, no matter what
we suffer, God is there with us in Jesus and God will be there to transform
that moment of suffering, of pain, of ridicule, of even death, and transform
it into new life. We will live that life - transformed life - forever.
Thatís the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus
that the first disciples kept struggling to express. Each of us,
as well, has to keep on struggling to express it, to experience it and
know what it means; to know that God has entered into the fullness of human
life in Jesus; that God has experienced suffering and death and that God
has transformed it into new life. Thatís the hope we carry with us
today. Thatís what we celebrate and thatís what we will continue
to celebrate as we leave this church and proclaim the good news, just as
those first disciples - that Jesus is risen from the dead and that all
of us in Jesus are raised to new life. What greater joy could we have than
to celebrate this truth that Jesus is risen today and we are risen in him.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.