The disciples were without hope; an empty future appeared before them, and they were afraid that their own deaths would soon follow that of Jesus. Grief, discouragement and loss must surely have been uppermost in their minds.
Now imagine the reports that came back to them from the women who had gone to anoint the body of Jesus in the tomb, something that had not been done on Good Friday because of the Passover celebration. “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him,” reports Mary Magdalene. Immediately, Peter and John run off to the tomb to see for themselves. The disciples certainly were confused; what could have happened to the Lord’s body? The gospel points out that, although “they did not yet understand the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead,” when John entered the empty tomb, “he saw and believed.” Though the mystery of the Resurrection was not yet clear to them, through faith the disciples recognized that God had accomplished something new. He had brought triumph out of tragedy, victory out of defeat, life out of death.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is not merely an event that belongs only to the past. The Lord’s rising from the dead is the key to interpreting His whole life and message, and it is the ground of our faith. Without this victory of new life, our faith would be useless. Furthermore, the guarantee of our future resurrection is secured upon the resurrection of Christ, because although we were cut off by sin from the life of God, the Lord Jesus, through His rising, has restored us to friendship with the Father and has raised us up along with Him. Easter is the celebration of our redemption, and therefore the celebration of thanksgiving and joy.
At times, we may experience the same emotions that the Lord’s disciples experienced. The future may look dim; we may be filled with anxiety, troubled and saddened by events that occur in our lives or the lives of family and friends. In these moments, we are called to cling to the hope offered us by the resurrection of Jesus, and to realize that in Him we find light, life and peace. Thanks to the Lord’s resurrection, the divine life which Christ contained in Himself has overflowed into our lives. For us, every day is to be an Easter day, for we have been renewed and made whole by the Lord’s triumph over sin and death. The joy of Easter ought to animate our every thought, word and action, for in Christ’s rising, we witness the overwhelming love God has for us, a love that joins us to His Son here and now, and a love that is the pledge and promise of eternity.
As we meditate on the beauty and happiness of this Easter day, may we open our hearts always to God, so that in every moment we might reflect, in our words and actions, the presence and grace of the risen Christ. Truly, this is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice!
Fr. De Ladurantaye is director of the Office of Sacred Liturgy, secretary for diocesan religious education, a professor of theology at Notre Dame Graduate School and in residence at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington.
(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)