Readings and Reflection for April 17 (Easter Sunday)

Assumption University

A Delightful Lenten Journey

Click the arrow below to hear a member of the Assumption community read today’s Gospel.

Creation and Resurrection

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.” We will use this verse from Psalm 118 as the acclamation before the Gospel every day within the Octave of Easter. This sentence continually reminds us that the Resurrection of the Lord is the day of joy and gladness. We celebrate this gracious event for seven days taken together as one day.

Number seven leads us back to the beginning of creation when God made everything out of love for human beings. At that moment, God created the whole universe for the happiness of human beings who, like Adam and Eve, did not cease to turn away from him. With the event of the Resurrection, God renewed the whole of humanity from within to allow his children to participate in his divine life. Creation and Resurrection are therefore intimately related to one another. Creation and Resurrection are more powerful than any destruction or devastation. Through an ongoing creation and resurrection, God pours out light and breathes life into the depths of human beings.

From darkness to light

Today’s Gospel is filled with symbolism. The first day of the week refers to a new beginning. This beginning starts in darkness: darkness in the sky, darkness in the eyes and darkness in the heart. At the beginning of creation, darkness covered the abyss. Now, at the threshold of the resurrection, darkness covers everything and everyone. Darkness overwhelms the whole universe until the risen Lord appears. Darkness goes hand in hand with unbelief until someone begins to believe in the resurrected Jesus. Darkness is the background where the light of the resurrection begins to shine.

When Judas left Jesus and the other disciples, it was night. Darkness was not only outside or in the sky, but also inside the betrayer’s heart. Darkness did not engulf only one disciple, but many of them. Darkness overwhelmed even Peter, the one who vehemently declared that he would lay down his life for his master. But the darkness of human betrayal and denial was overcome by the light of divine love and the life of the divine Son. When the master of life was put to death, he faced head-on the weakness of the human condition. When the bearer of light was buried in the depths of the ground, he illumined the whole earth and the dark side of human existence. The tomb was empty but that does not mean that everything remained in darkness. Emptiness did not go hand in hand with darkness because something new burst forth. The empty tomb made people think and move.

From one place to another

When Mary Magdalene sees the empty tomb, she runs away from it. Unlike the other evangelists, John does not mention the presence of any messenger to explain to Mary Magdalene why the tomb was empty. She thinks the body has been stolen. She goes to the tomb and discovers one important thing: life is not there. She moves from darkness, symbolized by death, in the hope that life and light are to be found elsewhere.

Her movement says something about an urgent situation. Mary Magdalene precedes the other women to meet the disciples. She runs alone, but she says: we don’t know where people put the Lord. Who is this “we”? Probably, Mary Magdalene and some women. Is it out of love that she runs faster than the others? It is possible. In any event, her reaction of racing off helps the two disciples to do the same, but in the opposite direction. She runs away from the tomb so that the two disciples could run toward it.

From love to the tradition

Mary Magdalene runs to tell the disciples as soon as possible that the tomb is empty. The empty tomb stands for a new life. A new life rises from the dead. A new light overcomes the darkness. A new meaning of life springs from death. When Peter hears about the empty tomb, he and the other disciple “come out” and go toward the tomb. They move away from a static place to an open space. They start a new journey of discipleship.

Peter represents the tradition. He is the bearer of authority. The other disciple represents love. He was the one whom Jesus loved. They both run, but the other disciple arrives first. Tradition and love take the same road, but love arrives before tradition. Love traces the road but gives way to tradition. Love bends down, sees something that covers the whole body: the burial cloths. Tradition sees the same thing with something else that is related to the head: the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head. Tradition is connected to the headship but it cannot function without the whole body.

On this Easter Sunday when we gather together with family members, we are called to reflect on the relationship between love and tradition. Love is initiative and intuitive. Tradition is reflexive and decisive. Love without tradition can lead us astray. Tradition without love is rigid and unfruitful. We need one and the other to see and to believe.

We also need one and the other to find a new meaning of life. This meaning is possible when we visit our own tomb of loneliness and our brokenness in relationships. This meaning is possible when we let go of what binds us to the power of darkness and the effect of hopelessness. This meaning is possible when we go down to the tomb in order to deal with our death: death to our own illusion, death to our selfish ambitions and death to our desire for domination. It is by visiting our tomb of brokenness with God and with others that we can discover the powerful light of the resurrection. Through the cracks of our broken existence, the divine light penetrates our lives. This light of life scatters all our darkness. This light of life is the reason for our hope. This light of life is our companion on our way to God.

Prayer: God of light, help us to live this day as a new beginning of our journey with you.

Resolution: Tell a story of my family in which love and tradition are interconnected