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At the Tomb
Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
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.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, it has been thousands of years since your Resurrection from the dead—the greatest moment in the history of the world, the one that changes everything. Help me to see how all of my life is changed by your rising from the dead. Help me to realize how my body and soul are affected since your Resurrection opens the way to the resurrection for me. Help me to live as someone who has new life thanks to your rising from the dead.
- Mary Came Very Early: Let us imagine ourselves alongside Mary Magdalene as she approached the tomb that chilly Easter morning. Her heart was heavy because not a second had passed by that she didn’t remember all that Jesus did for her, how he set her free and changed her life. She was reeling from the experiences of the three days before when she witnessed his crucifixion and death. She ached at the memory, which was a nightmare for her. She probably hadn’t slept and, as she went to the tomb, she wished with all her heart that it had never happened, that she could see him one more time. Her love was so great that it literally compelled her to come to the tomb before anyone else was even awake, and she was hoping to console herself by being physically near the body of Christ. We have risen early, like Mary, to immerse ourselves in the wonder of the Resurrection. May this time of reflection awaken in us a renewed gratitude for all Christ has done for us, and how he has changed our lives, and how we can be close to him in the Eucharist.
- Peter and John Ran to the Tomb: When Peter and John heard Mary’s testimony, they raced to the tomb. What were they thinking as they ran? Was there some memory in their minds of Jesus’ promises that he would rise from the dead? John, the younger of the two, arrived at the tomb first but didn’t go in. He just peeked inside. Was he acting temperately by deferring to Peter, who was his elder and the leader? Was John respecting the consecrated ground of a grave? Or was he hesitant because someone had “broken in”? Peter, bold and impetuous as ever, didn’t hesitate to enter the tomb and thoroughly investigate. Mary, John, and Peter each approached the tomb with varying degrees of fear, confusion, and expectation. How do we feel this Easter morning? Fearful, confused, or full of joyful expectation? Let’s bring all of our concerns to Christ, for he is alive. Christ is risen!
- He Saw and Believed: As John followed Peter into the tomb, he saw the empty slab on which, just three days ago, Jesus had lain. He saw the very cloths that he had helped to position around the dead body of Jesus folded neatly and laid aside. The Gospel put in four words John’s most amazing internal transformation: “He saw and believed.” John was the first Apostle to make the decision to believe, to let himself be convinced that Jesus hadn’t been stolen from the tomb, he had come back from the dead, he was alive. May we imitate John’s deep faith in the Resurrection of Jesus as we celebrate the holiest day in human history.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I am not one of those who was fortunate enough to be at the tomb that morning. Yet, I have come to believe thanks to the testimony of others and the witness of these three people, and because your Apostles wrote everything down all those years ago. You are alive, and I have been blessed to experience your presence in my life. My heart is grateful for the gift of your Resurrection. “We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song” (St. John Paul II).
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will celebrate the Resurrection as fully and as joyfully as I can.
For Further Reflection: Reflect on the lyrics of “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”: I know that my Redeemer lives. What comfort this sweet sentence gives! He lives, he lives, who once was dead. He lives, my ever-living Head. He lives to bless me with his love. He lives to plead for me above. He lives my hungry soul to feed. He lives to bless in time of need.
Fr. Adam Zettel, LC, was ordained in 2017 and worked for three years as a high school chaplain in Dallas, Texas. Now he resides in Oakville, Ontario, serving youth and young adults.