Death Defeated

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Easter Sunday: The Resurrection of the Lord

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.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, I am overcome with paschal joy this Easter Sunday. You have risen! You have defeated death. I have nothing to fear, for you have defeated my greatest enemy. 
Encountering Christ: 

  1. Christ the Victor: Alleluia! He Is Risen! Our Lord has vanquished the final foe: death. We believe that Christ’s Resurrection from the dead is the proof that he “destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel” (1 Timothy 2:10). Death, of course, is still a fact for humanity. We are mortal, in our mortal bodies while on earth. But death will be destroyed forever at the end of time. Isaiah prophesied that “He will destroy death forever” (Isaiah 25:8). Revelation proclaims that at the end of time “there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing, or pain, [for] the old order has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Death is powerless against Christ the King. It is his footstool (1 Corinthians 15:25). What have we to fear?
  2. Defeat the Darkness: Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, “while it was still dark.” We too are called to wake up early, while it is still dark. We are not to linger in our beds, but to love and serve the Lord now. St. Paul told the Romans, “It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:11-12). While it is Easter Sunday, and the world seems fresh and pure and joyful, the works of darkness continue. The darkness lurks, but we are called to confront it, not alone, but with the power of the risen Christ: “…draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11). Christ our Light has defeated the ultimate effects of darkness, but we must do our part to dispel “this present darkness” around us, armed with the Holy Spirit of truth, righteousness, and faith and compelled by the Gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:12-17).
  3. “He Saw and Believed”: Without Christ’s Resurrection, our faith is meaningless. Without the Resurrection of Jesus, we have no reason to hope for our own. For the resurrection of the dead–our hope for eternal life–is a share in Christ’s victory over death. St. Paul taught this truth: “For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:16-17). St. John “saw and believed” that Christ had risen. We can ask ourselves if we truly believe that Christ raised himself to God the Father and will raise us, those who hope in him, too. May we, filled with joy, respond today: Truly, he is risen!

Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I believe that you have risen. I believe that you will raise me up to be with you on the last day (John 6:54). Help me proclaim your victory in all that I say and do. Help me to have a spirit of power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7) so that I may reflect you to all who meet me. May I truly believe in the eternal life that you have promised me. May I live as one who is unafraid of death, for I know that you have truly defeated it.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will celebrate Mass with renewed energy and love for you, my Risen Lord.
For Further Reflection: Read the poem “Holy Sonnet 10: Death, be not proud” by John Donne.
Written by Carey Boyzuck.

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