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A Happy Ending!
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him. Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large. On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.’”
Opening Prayer: Lord, open my eyes of faith as I contemplate the mystery of your Resurrection so that I can be a better herald of your kingdom.
- The Tomb Was Empty: The faithful women who followed Jesus arrived that morning to tend to his dead body and found that the tomb was empty. This was the first evidence of the Resurrection and the only evidence that many of his followers had initially. Jesus didn’t immediately start appearing to the disciples, although eventually he appeared to over five hundred of them. Imagine the women’s dismay at finding a stranger in the tomb! They must have been greatly consoled by the concrete instructions the white-robed man gave them: “But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.” They did exactly as he instructed. When we’re confused, befuddled, or dismayed, the best course of action is discernment in prayer and prompt obedience to the Word of God.
- The Tomb is Empty Today: The tomb of Jesus is still in Jerusalem, and anyone can make a pilgrimage to see it. Jesus is not there. In spite of “stories” that Jesus survived the crucifixion (something that was very unlikely considering he had a spear thrust through his heart after close inspection indicated he was already dead; the Romans weren’t known for botching executions), there is no other tomb. Since Christianity quickly spread all over the Roman Empire and outside it, one would think Jesus would have been quite the celebrity and people would have tracked his coming and goings. But the fact is, after Easter, no one claimed to know where Jesus went, what he did for a living, or other facts about his ongoing earthly life. Rather, the universal idea was that while he had returned to life, he very soon ascended into heaven and remained there. Any ideas to the contrary came much later. His post-Resurrection presence was shrouded in mystery, like so much about Christ that requires deep faith.
- Touch and Believe: Jesus would offer greater evidence of his Resurrection as the days went on. He would appear to his followers and, in each case, they would have the opportunity to “touch and believe.” While we can visit that empty tomb, how much we would like to have been able to “touch and believe” as the Apostles did! We may not be able to see him in flesh and blood, but we can see his sacramental body in the Eucharist, just like the disciples of Emmaus did. Each reception of Holy Communion can be an Easter revelation that strengthens our faith.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, help my weak faith. Make each encounter with the Eucharist a moment of growth in faith, like it was for Mary Magdalen, for the Apostles in the upper room, for the disciples in Emmaus, for Thomas. I am your follower too, and I want my faith to increase each time I receive your Eucharistic body.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take the time to prepare myself to receive Communion well, so that it is a true encounter with you, the Risen Christ.
For Further Reflection: The 7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn
Father James Swanson, LC, is from Miles City, Montana, joined the Legionaries of Christ in 1983, and currently works in Atlanta, Georgia. He enjoys books, craft beers, and extreme birding.