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Home : Faith/Spirituality : Columns
3/27/2013 8:59:00 AM
This is a story we need to tell

Mary Jo Tully
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland

Sunday, March 31, 2013
Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
John 20:1-9

The characters in today’s Gospel are very much like my siblings and me. Though we are brother and sisters, our common genetic inheritance seems to have produced little commonality among us. Our approach to life is distinctly different. Given a mystery, one of us will explain it, another will withhold judgment, and the third will embrace it. Looking at one another, we are apt to say that one is pedantic, the second wishy-washy, and the third naive. Nevertheless, each of us considers our own approach the best.

Confronted by an empty tomb, 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 from 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 and it should, he thinks, be clear to those who hear him.

There are other stories — stories not told in the Scripture, stories 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 also would have appealed to many people.

If Delphine, Chuck and I lived in the times following the resurrection, one would have listened to Peter, another to Mary Magdalene and the third to John.

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.

Related Links:
• Liturgical readings

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