EASTER SUNDAY: THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD YEAR B APRIL 4, 2021 (R. 1: Acts 10: 34a, 37-43; Psalm: 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23; R. 2: Colossians 3: 1-4; Gospel: John 20: 1-9)
FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
THE TOMB IS EMPTY!
Would you have imagined how fast things have changed within a few days! Last Sunday, the crowd welcomed him into Jerusalem shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” On the Friday of the same week, from among the crowd came the shout, “Crucify him!” as they referred to the same Son of David. A day before that Friday, one of his supposed friends who shared the same bread with him and drank from the same cup with him betrayed him to death. A few hours later, the chief of his Apostles who had earlier pledged his full loyalty even in the face of death denied him three times. On the cross, his apostles who initially seemed to have been glued to him deserted him, leaving behind John and the women who stood at the foot of the cross. A king who wore a crown of thorns and has a cross for his throne; what a King!
On the cross, it seemed all hope was lost, it seemed evil had finally taken the day; it seemed falsehood had conquered the truth. But seeing how Jesus died, the centurion confessed, “This truly was the Son of God!” The apostles went into hiding while the wicked went to celebrate. But that was not the end of the story. “On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark…” She did not come to express her faith in the resurrection, but to anoint the body of Jesus whom she expected to remain in the tomb. But the tomb was empty. That was not a good sign for her; that was going to be more disgraceful than what happened on the cross. Now, the body has been taken away, as such Jesus has been denied a befitting burial, she must have thought. But the angel cleared the air and told her, “Do not be afraid…He is risen as he said!” And so, the earth received its greatest wound, namely the empty tomb. Death could not hold him captive, darkness could not overcome the light, truth has won the battle and Jesus is risen never more to die.
The resurrection of Jesus turned things around for good. His resurrection brought about social revolution. It was an epoch and a culture when and where women were not consulted when things were serious; women were not considered as trusted witnesses. But when the time came for the world to receive the best news ever, that the tomb is empty, it was a woman, Mary of Magdala who was granted the privilege of delivering the news. The silence of Holy Saturday is a reminder that the silence of God should not be mistaken for the absence of God. Evil tends to defeat but at the end of the day, the good wins the battle. When the Lord says “Yes”, no one can say, “no.”
In our daily struggles, sometimes things go bad for us, we feel like giving up on ourselves and on God, we see no point in hanging in there, we ask the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” What we celebrate in this season is not just history but mystery. Today we celebrate not just what happened once upon a time, but what God is doing in us today and what God is empowering us to do today. The story of Easter is meant to remind us that evil will always threaten the good but whoever remains on the side of God will live to share the testimony. The question for us today is whether we will be patient enough to share in the joy of the victory that comes from God. Because Judas Iscariot felt that evil had overcome the good with the arrest of Jesus on Holy Thursday, he took his own life and missed the joy of the resurrection. Peter denied Jesus three times, but he continued to hang around, he was able to undo his wrong deeds and so lived to share in the joy of the resurrection. No matter how many times we fail, we must stick around the Lord so he may reach out to us at the resurrection.
I am not sure of what brought you to Mass today or why you are listening to this homily; whatever that may be, we all have the same message to take home: “The tomb is empty!” Many are hurting out there and many have lost all hope. Looking at many bad world leaders, religious extremists, human and natural disasters like the current pandemic, many believe that darkness has finally overcome the light. Like Mary of Magdala, we are invited to go back and tell it to all the nations that the tomb is empty. We can do this through practical steps that can put smiles back on the face of someone by providing for their legitimate physical, material, spiritual and emotional needs. Your smile, your listening ear might be the only reason to stop one suicide today.
As we share in the joy of Easter, may God bring back life to all the dead aspects of us and may the power of the resurrection restore our lost hope and bring about answers to our prayers, through Christ our Lord. Amen.