April 4, Easter Sunday: Study and Meditation On The Scripture Readings For Mass

To help you prepare for this coming Sunday, here are the readings and reflections for this coming Sunday’s Scripture readings. This Sunday is Easter Sunday, the great feast and celebration of the resurrection of our crucified Lord from the dead.

Here are the Scripture readings from the U.S. Catholic bishops website.

My own weekly study (along with Don Schwager’s meditation) can be found here under "Current Study.

Reflections on the Sunday Scriptures to share with the younger ones in your family by Emily and Jeff Cavins can be found at Family Night.

Here also are links to audio reflections on the Gospel reading by Dr. Scott Hahn and Fr. Robert Barron.

The Navarre Bible Commentary for each reading can be viewed here.

Further study resources for the Readings: *St. Charles Borromeo Bible Study *can be found here, and Catholic Matters can be found here.

Here are a duo of recorded weekly Catholic Bible studies on the readings, each about an hour long:
St. Martha Catholic Church Adult Faith Formation
Sunday Gospel Scripture Study. (Easter Vigil Gospel)

Discussion and charitable comments are always welcome. Have a blessed and joyful Easter!


**Reading 1
From Acts 10:34a, 37-43 **

Peter’s short address is his first to non-Jews. It begins with the central idea that God is impartial: he wants all men to be saved through the proclamation of the Gospel (vv. 34-36). This is followed by a summary of Jesus’ public life (vv. 37-41) and, finally, the statement (the first time it appears in Acts) that Jesus Christ has been made Judge of the living and the dead (v. 42). As in all Christian preaching to Gentiles, proofs from Scripture take a secondary place (v. 43).‘Navarre Bible’]

‘Catholic Matters’:] *[The following] verses are part of the story of the conversion of Cornelius, a Roman army officer. Stationed in Caesarea, Cornelius believed the God of the Jews was the true God, but though a good-living man, he had not become a Jew. Advised by a divine messenger, he sent to Joppa for St. Peter, whose antipathy to pagans had been corrected by a vision seen that same day. Peter came to Caesarea and, contrary, to his life-long custom, entered the pagan home of Cornelius, who explained to him why he had been asked to come (10: 1-33). Peter then speaks: *

Peter proceeded to speak and said:
“You know what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.
We are witnesses of all that he did
both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.

This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

He commissioned us to preach to the people
and testify that he is the one appointed by God
as judge of the living and the dead.
To him all the prophets bear witness,
that everyone who believes in him
will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

(*All commentary is from the *Navarre Bible, with RSV translation)

**[34] And Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, **

**34. **This verse refers to 1 Samuel 16:7, where the Lord, in connection with the anointing of David as king of Israel, tells the prophet, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” When God calls and offers salvation to his elect, he does not judge as men do. With him distinctions regarding social class, race, sex or education do not count.

Here St Peter proclaims that the Old Testament prophecies about the Jews and the Gentiles forming one single nation (Is 2:2-4; Joel 2:28; Amos 9:12; Mich 4:1 ) and Jesus’ words calling everyone to enter his Kingdom (cf. Mt 8:11; Mk 16:15-16; Jn 10:16) should be interpreted literally.

**[40] but God raised Him on the third day and made Him manifest; **

**40. **Peter’s summary of the Gospel of Jesus (verses 37-41) reaches its climax with his statement that “God raised Him on the third day.” This had become the usual way of referring to our Lord’s resurrection (cf.1 Corinthians 15:4); see note on Acts 4:10.

Acts 4:10. *“Whom God raised from the dead”: *St. Peter once again bears witness to the Resurrection of Jesus, the central truth of apostolic preaching; he uses here the same words as he did at Pentecost. These are compatible with our holding that Jesus “rose by His own power on the third day” ([Pope] Paul VI, “Creed of the People of God”, 12). The power by which Christ rose was that of His divine person, to which both His soul and His body remained joined even after death separated them. “The divine power and operation of the Father and of the Son is one and the same; hence it follows that Christ rose by the power of the Father and by His own power” (St. Thomas Aquinas, “Summa Theologiae”, III, q. 53, a. 4).

“By the word ‘Resurrection’,” the “St. Pius V Catechism” explains, “we are not merely to understand that Christ was raised from the dead, which happened to many others, but that He rose by His own power and virtue, a singular prerogative peculiar to Him alone. For it is incompatible with nature and was never given to man to raise himself by his own power, from death to life. This was reserved for the almighty power of God. …] We sometimes, it is true, read in Scripture that He was raised by the Father; but this refers to Him as man, just as those passages on the other hand, which say that He rose by His own power, relate to Him as God” (I, 6, 8).]

**[42] And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that He is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. **

**42. **This verse refers to Christ’s role as Judge: He has been made supreme Judge over all mankind and will deliver His judgment at His second coming (Parousia). “The Sacred Scriptures inform us that there are two comings of the Son of God: the one when He assumed human flesh for our salvation in the womb of a virgin; the other when He shall come at the end of the world to judge all mankind” (“St. Pius V Catechism”, I, 8, 2).

Christ’s coming as Judge means that men will appear before Him twice, to render an account of their lives–of their thoughts, words, deeds and omissions. The first judgment will take place “when each of us departs this life; for then He is instantly placed before the judgment-seat of God, where all that he has ever done or spoken or thought during his life shall be subjected to the most rigid scrutiny. This is called the Particular Judgment. The second occurs when on the same day and in the same place all men shall stand together before the tribunal of their Judge …], and this is called the General Judgment” (“Ibid.”, I, 8, 3).

From Catholic Matters

**APPLICATION: **This passage from Acts has been selected for Easter Sunday not only because the resurrection is mentioned in it, but especially because St. Peter in his first discourse to a Gentile makes the resurrection the basic doctrine and the crowning proof of the truth of the Christian faith. As St. Paul says: “If Christ has not risen vain is our preaching, vain too is your faith” (1 Cor. 15: 14). And like Paul, St. Peter stresses the truth of the resurrection by citing witnesses, including himself, who had not only seen the risen Jesus but had spoken to him and actually eaten with him.

There is no room for doubt but that Apostles and disciples had thought that the sad events of Good Friday had put an end forever to the mission of love and mercy of their beloved Master. In spite of his previous references to his resurrection, they had completely forgotten it and were convinced that the tomb near Calvary was the end of all their hopes. They had locked themselves into the room of the Last Supper for fear of the Jews—two of them had set off for home on the Sunday morning, down-hearted at the Master’s failure; the others were waiting for an opportunity to slip out of the city quietly. But the resurrection changed all this. The unexpected, the unhoped-for happened. Even the most skeptical of them all, doubting Thomas, was eventually convinced of its reality. Had they been hoping for it, or even thinking of it, there might be some reason to suspect it was only an hallucination, the result of their “wishful thinking,” but the very opposite was the case. They were hard to convince even when it happened.

All this was intended by God—the basis of our Christian faith was proved beyond doubt. Christ, who had died on the cross on Good Friday, was raised from the dead by his Father on Easier morning. He returned to heaven in the full glory of the divinity which he had hidden while on earth, together with his human body, now also glorified. There (in heaven), as God and Man, he pleads for us at the right hand of the Father until the day when he who redeemed all men will come to judge them all.

The Alleluia is repeated often during the Easter ceremonies. It is a Hebrew word, which means “praise ye the Lord.” It is our attempt to give verbal expression to our joy and gratitude for all that God has done for us. We are no longer mere humans living on this planet for a few short years. We are citizens of heaven, made children of God the Father by Christ our Brother. And he has gone before us to his and our kingdom to prepare a place for us. He conquered death. Our earthly death has, therefore, now no real fears for us: it is not the end but the beginning of our true lives. It is only after our earthly death that we truly begin to live.

There is only one death now which we can fear—the spiritual death of serious sin which can keep us from our true heavenly life. But while this is a possibility for all of us, it is only a possibility. The sincere Christian who realizes what God has done for him and what is in store for him, will never be so ungrateful to God or so forgetful of his own best interests as to let some temporal and passing pleasure, pride, or profit, come between him and the eternal home which God’s love has prepared and planned for him.

*The method of administering Baptism in the apostolic days was by immersion. Those who heard the story of the gospel and were ready to believe in the one true God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit who had cooperated in man’s redemption and elevation to divine sonship, were immersed in water to be cleansed from their sins and their previous worldliness. Immersion in water symbolized being buried in the tomb with Christ. By immersion, therefore, the now Christian died with Christ to all earthly attachments and desires. He was raised again from the water (the tomb) to be with the Risen Christ. *[Catholic Matters]

Reading 2
Colossians 3:1-4

Brothers and sisters:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.

(Commentary is from the Navarre Bible)

1-4. The more ethical and exhortatory part of the letter begins at this point. It is a practical application of the teaching given in the earlier chapters, designed to suit the circumstances that have arisen in the Colossian church.

By His death and resurrection the Son of God frees us from the power of Satan and of death. “By Baptism men are grafted into the paschal mystery of Christ; they die with him, are buried with Him, and rise with Him” (Vatican II, “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, 6). In other words, Christians have been raised to a new kind of life, a supernatural life, whereby they share, even while on earth, in the glorious life of the risen Jesus. This life is at present spiritual and hidden, but when our Lord comes again in glory, it will become manifest and glorious.

Two practical consequences flow from this teaching–the need to seek the “things that are above”, that is, the things of God; and the need to pass unnoticed in one’s everyday work and ordinary life, yet to do everything with a supernatural purpose in mind.

As regards the first of these the Second Vatican Council has said: “In their pilgrimage to the Heavenly city Christians are to seek and relish the things that are above (cf. Colossians 3:1-2): this involves not a lesser, but a greater commitment to working with all men to build a world that is more human” (“Gaudium Et Spes”, 57). Work, family relationships, social involvements–every aspect of human affairs-- should be approached in a spirit of faith and done perfectly, out of love: “The true Christian, who acts according to this faith”, Monsignor Escriva comments, “always has his sights set on God. His outlook is supernatural. He works in this world of ours, which he loves passionately; he is involved in all its challenges, but all the while his eyes are fixed on Heaven” (“Friends of God”, 206).

Ordinary life, everyday interests, the desire to be better and to serve others without seeking public recognition of one’s merits–all this makes for holiness if done for love of God. A simple life “hid with Christ in God” (verse 3) is so important that Jesus Himself chose to spend the greater part of His life on earth living like an ordinary person: He was the son of a tradesman. “As we meditate on these truths, we come to understand better the logic of God. We come to realize that the supernatural value of our life does not depend on accomplishing great undertakings suggested to us by our over-active imagination. Rather it is to be found in the faithful acceptance of God’s will, in welcoming generously the opportunities for small, daily sacrifice” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 172).

This means that those who try to seek holiness by imitating Jesus in His hidden life will be people full of hope; they will be optimistic and happy people; and after their death they will share in the glory of the Lord: they will hear Jesus’ praise, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your Master” (Matthew 25:21).

On the value of the hidden life, see the note on Luke 2:51.

Luke 2:51. The Gospel sums up Jesus’ life in Nazareth in just three words: “erat subditus illis”, he was obedient to them. “Jesus obeys, and he obeys Joseph and Mary. God has come to the world to obey, and to obey creatures. Admittedly they were very perfect creatures–Holy Mary, our mother, greater than whom God alone; and that most chaste man Joseph. But they are only creatures, and yet Jesus, who is God, obeyed them. We have to love God so as to love his will and desire to respond to his calls. They come to us through the duties of our ordinary life—duties of state, profession, work, family, social life, our own and other people’s difficulties, friendship, eagerness to do what is right and just” ([St] J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 17).

Jesus lived like any other inhabitant of Nazareth, working at the same trade as St Joseph and earning his living by the sweat of his brow. "His hidden years are not without significance, nor were they simply a preparation for the years which were to come after–those of his public life. Since 1928 I have understood clearly that God wants our Lord’s whole life to be an example for Christians. I saw this with special reference to his hidden life, the years he spent working side by side with ordinary men. Our Lord wants many people to ratify their vocation during years of quiet, unspectacular living. Obeying God’s will always means leaving our selfishness behind, but there is no reason why it should entail cutting ourselves off from the normal life of ordinary people who share the same status, work and social position with us.

“I dream–and the dream has come true–of multitudes of God’s children, sanctifying themselves as ordinary citizens, sharing the ambitions and endeavors of their colleagues and friends. I want to shout to them about this divine truth: If you are there in the middle of ordinary life, it doesn’t mean Christ has forgotten about you or hasn’t called you. He has invited you to stay among the activities and concerns of the world. He wants you to know that your human vocation, your profession, your talents, are not omitted from his divine plans. He has sanctified them and made them a most acceptable offering to his Father” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 20).]

From Catholic Matters:

**APPLICATION: **Children at boarding schools draw, up calendars and mark off each day which brings them one nearer to the end of the, term. Fiances mark off the months, the weeks, the days that separate them from, the great day when they will be united forever, they say, to their beloved one. Seminarians count the years, months, weeks to the great day when, they will be ordained and say their first Masses. Parents look forward anxiously to the day when their children will be educated and safely settled in life. In fact, we are all always looking forward to a happier day which is to come some time. All this is very natural and very human, because our present life is not our permanent life; our present home, this earth, is not the real home destined for us by our loving Creator.

We were created for unending happiness in heaven, and it is only when we get there that our desire and our quest for some greater happiness will end. From then on, we will always enjoy and possess that all-satisfying happiness.

Today, Easter Sunday, St. Paul reminds us that we have this happiness within our grasp. We are moving steadily and more quickly than we realize toward it. The Holy Trinity, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, have already done, and are daily continuing, to do for us, all within their power. All that is needed is that we do the little that is asked of us.

St. Paul tells us we must “mind the things that are above not the things that are on earth.” We must never let the “things of earth,” the pleasures, the power, the possessions which we can or could, have in this life, block or impede us on our upward journey. Does this mean that we must all return to the deserts of Egypt, as some early Christians did? By no means. We are not forbidden to have the lawful pleasures of life. We are not forbidden possessions or power if they are used justly. All we are forbidden is the unlawful use of the things of this world.

And as regards minding the things that are above, this is not something calling for extraordinary self-sacrifice or unnatural mental activity. All we are asked to do is to try to stay in God’s grace, and do our daily chores whatever they be, as well and as diligently as we can. We are expected to recognize our natural weakness and to turn to God frequently for pardon and for help.

Whilst there are saints in heaven who lived lives of extreme self-mortification and did extraordinary things for God and for their neighbor, it is an encouraging and consoling thought that there are millions of unknown saints in heaven who lived normal lives, unnoticed by the world and maybe even by themselves. They are people who kept in God’s friendship all their lives, or got back quickly to it, if they sometimes forgot or offended their heavenly Father.

What millions of others have done I can do too. We are aided by God’s grace as they were. God wants me in heaven. He has an Easter resurrection planned for me.

The accounts of Christ’s resurrection on Easter morning as given by the four Evangelists vary in details but agree on the essential points. Some women, the leader amongst them being Mary Magdalene, came to the tomb early on Sunday morning to anoint the dead body with spices, in order to help preserve it. This anointing had been done very hastily on the Friday because of the Sabbath which began at sundown. The tomb was found open and empty. The first thought of the women was that somebody had stolen the corpse. This shows how far resurrection was from their minds. They went in haste to tell the disciples. Peter and John ran to the tomb. Later that day Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene, to ten of the Apostles, to Peter separately (according to St. Paul, 1 Cor. 15: 5), to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24: 13); and, later on, he appeared often to the Apostles and disciples in Galilee, for a period of days. [Catholic Matters]

John 20:1-9

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.

So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”

So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.

When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.

Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.

For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

(All commentary is from the Navarre Bible, with RSV translation):

[1] **Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. **[2] **So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” **

1-2. All four Gospels report the first testimonies of the holy women and the disciples regarding Christ’s glorious resurrection, beginning with the fact of the empty tomb (cf. Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1ff; Luke 24:1-12) and then telling of the various appearances of the risen Jesus.

Mary Magdalene was one of the women who provided for our Lord during His journeys (Luke 8:1-3); along with the Virgin Mary she bravely stayed with Him right up to His final moments (John 19:25), and she saw where His body was laid (Luke 23:55). Now, after the obligatory Sabbath rest, she goes to visit the tomb. The Gospel points out that she went “early, when it was still dark”: her love and veneration led her to go without delay, to be with our Lord’s body.

**[4] They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; **

4. The Fourth Gospel makes it clear that, although the women, and specifically Mary Magdalene, were the first to reach the tomb, the Apostles were the first to enter it and see the evidence that Christ had risen (the empty tomb, the linen clothes “lying” and the napkin in a place by itself). Bearing witness to this will be an essential factor in the mission which Christ will entrust to them: “You shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem…and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8; cf. Acts 2:32).

John, who reached the tomb first (perhaps because he was the younger), did not go in, out of deference to Peter. This is an indication that Peter was already regarded as leader of the Apostles.

Continued on next post,

[5] and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. [6] **Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, **[7] **and the napkin, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. **

**5-7. **The words the Evangelist uses to describe what Peter and he saw in the empty tomb convey with vivid realism the impression it made on them, etching on their memory details which at first sight seem irrelevant. The whole scene inside the tomb in some way caused them to intuit that the Lord had risen. Some of the words contained in the account need further explanation, so terse is the translation.

“The linen clothes lying there”: the Greek participle translated as “lying there” seems to indicate that the clothes were flattened, deflated, as if they were emptied when the body of Jesus rose and disappeared–as if it had come out of the clothes and bandages without their being unrolled, passing right through them (just as later He entered the Cenacle when the doors were shut). This would explain the clothes being “fallen”, “flat” “lying”, which is how the Greek literally translates, after Jesus’ body–which had filled them–left them. One can readily understand how this would amaze a witness, how unforgettable the scene would be.

“The napkin…rolled up in a place by itself”: the first point to note is that the napkin, which had been wrapped round the head, was not on top of the clothes, but placed on one side. The second, even more surprising thing is that, like the clothes, it was still rolled up but, unlike the clothes, it still had a certain volume, like a container, possibly due to the stiffness given it by the ointments: this is what the Greek participle, here translated as “rolled”, seems to indicate.

From these details concerning the empty tomb one deduces that Jesus’ body must have risen in a heavenly manner, that is, in a way which transcended the laws of nature. It was not only a matter of the body being reanimated as happened, for example, in the case of Lazarus, who had to be unbound before he could walk (cf. John 11:44).

[8] **Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed. **[9] **for as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise from the dead. **

**8-10. **As Mary Magdalene had told them, the Lord was not in the tomb; but the two Apostles realized that there was no question of any robbery, which was what she thought had happened, because they saw the special way the clothes and napkin were; they know began to understand what the Master had so often told them about His death and resurrection (cf. Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; etc…)

The empty tomb and the other facts were perceptible to the senses; but the resurrection, even though it had effects that could be tested by experience, requires faith if it is to be accepted. Christ’s resurrection is a real, historic fact: His body and soul were re-united. But since His was a glorious resurrection unlike Lazarus’, far beyond our capacity in this life to understand what happened, and outside the scope of sense experience, a special gift of God is required–the gift of faith—to know and accept as a certainty this fact which, while it is historical, is also supernatural. Therefore, St. Thomas Aquinas can say that “the individual arguments taken alone are not sufficient proof of Christ’s resurrection, but taken together, in a cumulative way, they manifest it perfectly. Particularly important in this regard are the spiritual proofs (cf. specially Luke 24:25-27), the angelic testimony (cf. Luke 24:4-7) and Christ’s own post-resurrection word confirmed by miracles (cf. John 3:13; Matthew 16:21; 17:22; 20:18)” (St. Thomas Aquinas, “Summa Theologiae”, III, q. 55, a. 6 ad 1).

In addition to Christ’s predictions about His passion, death and resurrection (cf. John 2:19; Matthew 16:21; Mark 9:31; Luke 9:22), the Old Testament also foretells the glorious victory of the Messiah and, in some way, His resurrection (cf. Psalm 16:9; Isaiah 52:13; Hosea 6:2). The Apostles begin to grasp the true meaning of Sacred Scripture after the resurrection, particularly once they receive the Holy Spirit, who fully enlightens their minds to understand the content of the Word of God. It is easy to imagine the surprise and elation they all feel when Peter and John tell them what they have seen in the tomb.

Regarding tonight’s Vigil Mass for the Resurrection of the Lord, there are numerous Scripture readings which you can view here. The Gospel Reading is from Luke.

Luke 24:1-12 **

At daybreak on the first day of the week
the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus
took the spices they had prepared
and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;
but when they entered,
they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were puzzling over this, behold,
two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.
They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.
They said to them,
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here, but he has been raised.
Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee,
that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners
and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”
And they remembered his words.

Then they returned from the tomb
and announced all these things to the eleven
and to all the others.
The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James;
the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles,
but their story seemed like nonsense
and they did not believe them.

But Peter got up and ran to the tomb,
bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone;
then he went home amazed at what had happened.

(All commentary is from the Navarre Bible, with RSV translation):

[1] But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. [2] And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, [3] but when they went in they did not find the body. [4] While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel;

**1-4. **The affection which led the holy women to make the necessary preparations for the embalming of Jesus’ body was, perhaps, an intuition of faith which the Church would express more elaborately much later on: “We firmly believe that when his soul was dissociated from his body, his divinity continued always united both to his body in the sepulchre and to his soul in limbo” (“St Pius V Catechism”, I, 5, 6).

[5] and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. [6] Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, [7] that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise." [8] **And they remembered his words, **

**5-8. **True faith concerning the resurrection of Jesus teaches that he truly died, that is, his soul was separated from his body, and his body was in the grave for three days; and that then by his own power his body and soul were united once more, never again to be separated (cf. “St Pius V Catechism”, I, 6, 7).

Although this is a strictly supernatural mystery there are some elements in it which come within the category of sense experience–death, burial, the empty tomb, appearances, etc.–and in this sense it is a demonstrable fact and one which has been verified (cf. St Pius X, “Lamentabili”, 36-37).

Continued below…

Jesus Christ’s resurrection completes the work of Redemption, “For just as by dying he endured all evil to deliver us from evil, so was he glorified in rising again to advance us towards good things, according to Rom 4:25 which says that ‘he was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification’” (St Thomas Aquinas, “Summa Theologiae”, III, q. 53, a. 1, c.).

"‘Christ is alive.’ This is the great truth which fills our faith with meaning. Jesus, who died on the cross, has risen. He has triumphed over death; he has overcome sorrow, anguish and the power of darkness. ‘Do not be amazed’ was how the angels greeted the women who came to the tomb. ‘Do not be amazed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here’ (Mk 16:6). ‘This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it’ (Ps 117:24).

"Easter is a time of joy–a joy not confined to this period of the liturgical year, for it should always be present in the Christian’s heart. For Christ is alive. He is not someone who has gone, someone who existed for a time and then passed on, leaving us a wonderful example and a great memory.

“No, Christ is alive, Jesus is the Emmanuel: God with us. His Resurrection shows us that God does not abandon his own. He promised he would not: ‘Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you’ (Is 49:15). And he has kept his promise. His delight is still to be with the children of men cf. Prov 8:31)” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 102).

Through Baptism and the other sacraments, a Christian becomes part of the redemptive mystery of Christ, part of his death and resurrection: “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col 2: 12). “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:13).

[9] **and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. **[10] Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; [11] **but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. **[12] But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home wondering at what had happened.

**9-12. **The first people to whom the angel announced the birth of Christ were the shepherds at Bethlehem; and the first to be told of his resurrection are these devout women: one further sign of God’s preference for simple and sincere souls is the fact that he gives them this honor which the world would not appreciate (cf. Mt 11:25). But it is not only their simplicity and kindness and sincerity that attracts him: poor people (such as shepherds) and women were looked down on in those times, and Jesus loves anyone who is humbled by the pride of men.

The women’s very simplicity and goodness lead them to go immediately to Peter and the Apostles to tell them everything they have seen and heard. Peter, whom Christ promised to make his vicar on earth (cf. Mt 16:18) feels he must take the initiative in checking out their story.

Meditations from Don Schwager at his website Daily Readings and Meditations:

Easter Sunday (April 4):
** “As yet they did not know the scripture, that Jesus must rise from the dead”**

Scripture: John 20:1-9
[alternate readings: [URL=“http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/apr3a.htm”]Luke 24:1-12

and Luke 24:13-35]

*1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag’dalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. 4 They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; 5 and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, 7 and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. *

Meditation: On Sunday morning the women went to the tomb to pay their last tribute to a dead body. The disciples thought that everything had finished in tragedy. Neither were ready to see an empty tomb and hear the angel’s message, Why do you seek the living among the dead (Luke 24:5)? Mary Magdalene is the first to report the startling news of the empty tomb! She assumed that Jesus’ body had been stolen! She was not yet prepared to meet the risen Lord who would reveal himself to her while she later lingered in the garden near the tomb (John 20:11-18).

What is the significance of the stone being rolled away? It would have taken several people to roll away such a stone. And besides, the sealed tomb had been guarded by soldiers! This is clearly the first sign of the resurrection. Bede, a church father from the 8th century, comments: “[The angel] rolled back the stone not to throw open a way for our Lord to come forth, but to provide evidence to people that he had already come forth. As the virgin’s womb was closed, so the sepulcher was closed, yet he entered the world through her closed womb, and so he left the world through the closed sepulcher.” (From Homilies on the Gospels 2,7,24) Another church father remarked: “To behold the resurrection, the stone must first be rolled away from our hearts” (Peter Chrysologus, 5th century). It is significant that the disciples had to first deal with the empty tomb before they could come to grips with the fact that scripture had foretold that Jesus would die for our sins and then rise triumphant. They disbelieved until they saw the empty tomb.

John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, wrote his gospel as an eye-witness of the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us, and who died and rose for our salvation. John was the only apostle, along with the women who stood with Jesus at the foot of the cross, who witnessed Jesus’ death on Good Friday. Now John is the first of the apostles, along with Peter, to see the empty tomb on Easter Sunday morning, after the women returned and gave their report. What did John see in the tomb that led him to believe in the resurrection of Jesus? It was certainly not a dead body. The dead body of Jesus would have disproven the resurrection and made his death a tragic conclusion to a glorious career as a great teacher and miracle worker. When John saw the empty tomb he must have recalled Jesus’ prophecy that he would rise again after three days. Through the gift of faith John realized that no tomb on earth could contain the Lord and giver of life.

John in his first epistle testifies: What we have seen, heard, and touched we proclaim as the word of life which existed “from the beginning” (1 John 1:1-4). John bears witness to what has existed from all eternity. This “word of life” is Jesus the word incarnate, but also Jesus as the word announced by the prophets and Jesus the word now preached throughout the Christian church for all ages to come. One thing is certain, if Jesus had not risen from the dead and appeared to his disciples, we would never have heard of him. Nothing else could have changed sad and despairing men and women into people radiant with joy and courage. The reality of the resurrection is the central fact of the Christian faith. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord gives us “eyes of faith” to know him and the power of his resurrection. The greatest joy we can have is to encounter the living Lord and to know him personally. Do you celebrate the feast of Easter with joy and thanksgiving for the victory which Jesus has won for you over sin and death?

*“Lord Jesus Christ, you have triumphed over the grave and you have won new life for us. Give me the eyes of faith to see you in your glory. Help me to draw near to you and to grow in the knowledge of your great love and victory over sin and death.” *

A reflection by Dr. Scott Hahn:

Easter Sunday: They Saw and Believed

Acts 10:34, 37-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Colossians 3:1-4
John 20:1-9

Jesus is nowhere visible. Yet today’s Gospel tells us that Peter and John “saw and believed.”

What did they see? Burial shrouds lying on the floor of an empty tomb. Maybe that convinced them that He hadn’t been carted off by grave robbers, who usually stole the expensive burial linens and left the corpses behind.

But notice the repetition of the word “tomb” - seven times in nine verses. They saw the empty tomb and they believed what He had promised: that God would raise Him on the third day.

Chosen to be His “witnesses,” today’s First Reading tells us, the Apostles were “commissioned…to preach…and testify” to all that they had seen - from His anointing with the Holy Spirit at the Jordan to the empty tomb.

More than their own experience, they were instructed in the mysteries of the divine economy, God’s saving plan - to know how “all the prophets bear witness” to Him (see Luke 24:27,44).

Now they could “understand the Scripture,” could teach us what He had told them - that He was “the Stone which the builders rejected,” that today’s Psalm prophesies His Resurrection and exaltation (see Luke 20:17; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11).

We are the children of the apostolic witnesses. That is why we still gather early in the morning on the first day of every week to celebrate this feast of the empty tomb, give thanks for “Christ our life,” as today’s Epistle calls Him.

Baptized into His death and Resurrection, we live the heavenly life of the risen Christ, our lives “hidden with Christ in God.” We are now His witnesses, too. But we testify to things we cannot see but only believe; we seek in earthly things what is above.

We live in memory of the Apostles’ witness, like them eating and drinking with the risen Lord at the altar. And we wait in hope for what the Apostles told us would come - the day when we too “will appear with Him in glory.”

A meditation for personal application from Catholic Matters:

**APPLICATION: **As we said above, the accounts of the Resurrection of Christ differ in many details in the different writings of the New Testament, but the fact of the Resurrection stressed in all of them, was the basis of the new Christian Faith. Had it not happened, Christianity would have been stillborn. It would have disappeared from Jerusalem and the world on that first Easter Sunday. Peter and his companions would have returned to their fishing-nets and boats on Lake Genesareth, and Christ the good and the kind man who had helped so many, would have been forgotten in half a generation.

But Christ was no mere man of kindly acts and words of wisdom. He was the Messiah promised for centuries. He was the suffering servant foretold by Isaiah, whose perfect obedience to his Father had led him to the Cross and the grave. But above all, he was the Son of God who had emptied himself (St. Paul) of his divine glory in order to be the perfect human servant of the Father, and who was now raised by the Father, with his divine glory restored, and his glorified resurrected body sharing in that glory. This was the divine plan of God for mankind, through Christ, and because of Christ, the new Adam’s perfect obedience, all mankind would be made worthy of divine sonship, and worthy of one day rising like Christ from the grave in glorified bodies.

Is all this too good to be true? It is, if we make God to our image and likeness, as so many opponents of Christianity do. He is God and his love is infinite and incomprehensible to us. What God can see in me and my fellowman will always be a mystery to me, but then I have not the mind of God. All I know and all I need to know is that I have sufficient proofs that God loves all men. The Incarnation, death and Resurrection of his Divine Son for man’s sake is the greatest proof of love for us that even the omnipotent God could give He has given it. As a necessary consequence from this act of divine love, we are guaranteed our resurrection from the dead to a life of unending happiness and glory if we do not, in extreme folly, reject God’s offer.

Today, let us thank God once more for Easter and for all that it means for us. Our personal Easter morning is not far away from even the youngest amongst us. We have a few Calvaries to climb perhaps in the meantime but what are they when we see our glorious Easter on the horizon?

Almost forgot: here are some questions for reflection and personal application from my weekly Scripture study:

  1. Put yourself in the place of Mary. What is your emotional state in the days following the crucifixion? Why do you go to the tomb so early? How do you react to the empty tomb?

  2. According to the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, how long was Jesus dead and his body in the tomb (John 2:18-22; Acts 10:40; CCC 994)? What did Jesus do for that time while in the tomb (1 Peter 3:19, 4:6; CCC 631-33)?

  3. What had the disciples been told in advance about Jesus rising from the dead (Matthew 16:21, 27:63)? How do the positions of the linen shroud and the napkin provide corroborating evidence of the Resurrection? What is your proof that Jesus rose from the dead?

  4. How should we respond to the empty tomb? Why did John preach the message (John 19:35, 17:20; 1 John 5:13)?

  5. When a loved one dies or life seems cruel or a drudgery, how does the Resurrection of Jesus help you deal with your pain?

An alternate Second Reading for today is 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8. Here is the Navare Bible text (RSV) and commentary:

**From: 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8

[6] Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? [7] Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.


**6. **Jesus used the example of leaven in dough to describe the growth of goodness (cf. Mt 13:31-33 and par.) and also of evil (cf. Mk 8:15-16 and par.): in both cases a small amount can produce a very large result. Here St Paul uses the simile to show the Corinthians the harm of the incestuous man’s behaviour can do to the whole community through the bad example and scandal he gives and also through others’ consenting to his sin and not doing what they can to get him to reform (cf. St Thomas, Commentary on 1 Cor, ad loc.).

St Paul draws attention to the gravity of the sin of scandal – “anything said, done or omitted which leads another to commit sins” (St Pius X Catechism, 417): “For, all other sin, no matter how grave they be, do injury only to the person who commits them; but this sin harms those others whom it steers off God’s path. How can satisfaction be made for this injury, which involves killing a soul whom God has bought with his blood? For if gold is that gold is worth, the blood of Christ is what cost blood. Whence it follows that, if these people be condemned, not only will they undergo punishment for their faults but also for the faults of those whom they led into evil. Therefore, every Christian realizes how justly Christ spoke when he said (Mt 18:7), ‘Woe to the world for temptations to sin” (Fray Luis de Granada, Sermon on public sins).

**7-8. **The Apostle is here using examples taken from the Jewish celebration of the Passover and the Azymes, to draw spiritual lessons for the Corinthians. The Passover was the principal Jewish feast, and its central rite the eating of the passover lamb. At the Passover meal, as also on the seven days following, which were also feast-days, the eating of leavened bread was forbidden, which was why they were described as the days of the Azymes (a-zyme = without leaven). Thus, in the Book of Exodus God laid it down that during these days no leaven should be kept in Jewish homes (cf. Ex 12:15, 19).

Jesus Christ, our Passover, our paschal lamb, “has been sacrificed”. The paschal lamb was a promise and prefigurement of the true Lamb, Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 1:29), who was the victim of the sacrifice on Calvary, offered on behalf of all mankind: “He is the true lamb who took away the sins of the world; by dying he destroyed our death; by rising he restored our life” (Roman Missal, first Easter Preface). The perennial value of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross (cf. Heb. 10:11-14), renewed every time Mass is said, means that Christians are always celebrating a festival. Therefore, the Apostle concludes, the Christians should eliminate – from community life and personal life – the old leaven, which in the context of the festival symbolizes impurity and sinfulness; and they should always live a genuinely Christian life, with azymes, the symbol of cleanness and purity,” of sincerity and truth.

“The present time is, then, a festival day,’ St John Chrysostom comments, “for when he says ‘let us celebrate the festival’, Paul does not add: ‘for Passover or Pentecost is imminent.’ No, he is pointing out that all this life is a festival for Christians by virtue of the ineffable benefits they have received. Indeed, Christians, what wonders have you not received from God? For your sakes Jesus Christ has become man; he has freed you from eternal damnation, to call you to take possession of his kingdom. With this thought in mind, how can you not be in continuous festival right through your life on earth? Poverty, sickness or the persecution which oppresses us – these should not discourage us; this present life, the Apostle tells us, is a life of rejoicing” (Hom. on 1 Cor, ad loc.).

If you are going to Mass later today or this evening, the Gospel will be this:

**From: Luke 24:13-35

The Road To Emmaus

[13] That very day two of them (disciples) were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, [14] and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. [15] While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. [16] But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. [17] And He said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. [18] Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered Him, “Are You the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” [19] And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, [20] and how our chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. [21] But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. [22] Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning [23] and did not find His body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that He was alive. [24] Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” [25] And He said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! [26] Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” [27] And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

[28] So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, [29] but they constrained Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So He went in to stay with them. [30] When He was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. [31] And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished out of their sight. [32] They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?” [33] And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the Eleven gathered together and those who were with them, [34] who said, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” [35] Then they told what had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Here is the Navarre Bible Commentary on that passage:

13-35. In the course of their conversation with Jesus, the disciples’ mood changes from sadness to joy; they begin to hope again, and feel the need to share their joy with others, thus becoming heralds and witnesses of the risen Christ.

This is an episode exclusive to St. Luke, who describes it in a masterly way. It shows our Lord’s zeal for souls. “As He is walking along, Christ meets two men who have nearly lost all hope. They are beginning to feel that life has no meaning for them. Christ understands their sorrow; He sees into their heart and communicates to them some of the life He carries within Himself.”

“When they draw near the village, He makes as if to go on, but the two disciples stop Him and practically force Him to stay with them. They recognize Him later when He breaks the bread. The Lord, they exclaimed, has been with us! And they said to each other: "Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?"' (Luke 24:32). Every Christian should make Christ present among men. He ought to act in such a way that those who know Him sense the aroma of Christ’ (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:15). Men should be able to recognize the Master in His disciples” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 105).

**13-27. **Jesus’ conversation with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus gives us a very good idea of the disillusionment felt by His disciples after His apparent total failure. Cleopas’ words summarize Christ’s life and mission (verse 19), His passion and death (verse 20), the despair felt by His disciples (verse 21), and the events of that Sunday morning (verse 22).

Earlier, Jesus had said to the Jews: “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to Me” (John 5:39). In saying this He indicated the best way for us to get to know Him. Pope Paul VI points out that today also frequent reading of and devotion to Holy Scripture is a clear inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “The progress made in biblical studies, the increasing dissemination of the Sacred Scriptures, and above all the example of tradition and the interior action of the Holy Spirit are tending to cause the modern Christian to use the Bible ever increasingly as the basic prayerbook and to draw from it genuine inspiration and unsurpassable examples” (Pope Paul VI, “Marialis Cultus”, 30).

Because the disciples are so downhearted, Jesus patiently opens for them the meaning of all the Scriptural passages concerning the Messiah. “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?”: with these words He disabuses them of the notion of an earthly and political Messiah and shows them that Christ’s mission is a supernatural one–to save all mankind.

Sacred Scripture contained the prophecy that God would bring about salvation through the redemptive passion and death of the Messiah. The Cross does not mean failure: it is the route chosen by God for Christ to achieve definitive victory over sin and death (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24). Many of our Lord’s contemporaries failed to understand His supernatural mission because they misinterpreted the Old Testament texts. No one knew the meaning of Sacred Scripture like Jesus. And, after Him, only the Church has the mission and responsibility of conserving Scripture and interpreting it correctly: “All that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Vatican II, “Dei Verbum”, 12).

Continued on next post…

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