April 8, 2012
Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Cor 5:6b-8
John 20:1-9 or 41: Mark 16:1-7
For weeks, shopping centers have been filled with bunnies, chocolate eggs and jelly beans. Today, children will spoil their Easter dinner with sweets. Even those who do not like hard boiled eggs will be charmed by their color and decorations. Soon, the cellophane grass will be vacuumed from the carpet and Easter eggs will be transformed into egg salad for school lunches. Meanwhile, the message of death overcome by new and glorious life too easily might be reserved with the palms from last week’s remembrance of the passion. Only the unrelenting journey of the seasons toward spring will continue to proclaim new life unless the community itself remembers that each Sunday must be for us — as it was for the early Christians — a renewal of Easter.
The resurrection delights, confounds and reassures us. Confronted by an empty tomb, we react in a variety of ways. Mary Magdalene explained, Peter observed and John believed. There is no denying the ultimate fidelity of all three; but, the varied ways in which they came to faith is undeniable.
Human nature has not changed in the intervening centuries. Those who gather at the Eucharist on this Easter Sunday sing the “alleluia” of resurrection faith. The paths that they have taken to arrive at this moment are different from one another. Many were baptized as infants and walked in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents before them. The road they took seems logical to those who see it from the outside. Yet, we do not know their interior struggles. Like Mary Magdalene, perhaps they fought their own personal demons and the pressures that society placed upon them.
Others who celebrate with us might well have approached Christianity as outside observers who were merely “hedging their bets,” and then — at a crisis point like Peter’s — were moved to make a decision that changed them forever.
Then there are those who instinctively accepted the Word of God with the kind of love that motivated the disciple who called himself “beloved.” The Lord who is the giver of faith respects human personality.
The First Reading recounts the powerful witness of Peter — Peter the Observer — who in retrospect can faithfully recount the story of Jesus in a manner similar to our own credal affirmation. It is clear to the apostle now and he thinks it should be clear to those who hear him.
There are other stories — stories not told in the Scripture — which live in our own imagination. How did Mary Magdalene tell the tale of resurrection? What would John have said? Though Peter’s sermon was articulate, I think the stories Mary Magdalene and John told would have appealed to another group of people.
Easter Sunday is about celebration. It is about “alleluia-faith.” It is about the mission that belongs to each of us. Our individual stories of faith appeal to different individuals. These are the tales we must tell.
Today we are challenged to retrace the steps that led us to Jesus and to tell others about the journey.
We give thanks today for the way the Lord has worked in our lives and for those who have had the courage to tell us how they have been led to believe.
We celebrate especially the faith of those who were baptized at the Easter Vigil.