“…He is not here. He has been raised, exactly as he promised. Come and see the place where he was laid.” (Mt. 28:6)
The Lord is Risen! Alleluia!
After a gloomy week which culminated in the burial of Jesus with the help of Joseph of Arimathea, the mood changes on Black Saturday with the eager anticipation of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior. During that first Easter, Mary Magdalene came to inspect the tomb, in an act of love. Great must be her grief on seeing the empty tomb! And yet, with the Lord’s resurrection, her sadness turned “half-overjoyed, half-fearful and ran to tell the good news to his disciples” (Mt. 28:8).
In the Easter vigil, there are several readings counting from the book of Genesis and up to St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. Fr. Armand likens this to a typical vigil wherein we gather and share stories about the recently departed brother or sister. Indeed what we do in the Easter vigil is listen to the proclamation of salvation history of the Church. The Church salvation history begins with the opening chapters of the book of Genesis and continues to the book of Revelation, where God the Father reveals His plan of salvation and His loving desire to re-establish the broken relationship between Himself and man. The promise and the beginning of the fulfillment of that plan is manifested in the Incarnation of Jesus the Messiah.
The Church has told us that it is “important for us to understand that the Holy Bible is not only a book of faith but it is also a book of history. It was within the unfolding of actual human events that God has embodied His revelation of salvation and revealed Himself to man”. In the general audience, held in St. Peter’s Square, on May 11, 2005, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, preached a message of hope by reminding the faithful of God’s divine intervention in human history. Pope Benedict told the more than 17,000 people present, that “History is not in the hands of dark forces, of chance, or of merely human choices. The Lord, supreme arbiter of historical events, rises above the discharge of evil energies, the vehement onslaught of Satan, the emergence of plagues and wickedness. He knowingly guides history to the dawn of the new heaven and the new earth, as mentioned in the last part of the book [of Revelation] in the image of the New Jerusalem.” (Agape Catholic Bible Study)
Yes, God is in control of human events, but we take care not to stereotype Him in doing things as we think He will and should do. Our wisdom is not up to God and what we think is God’s wisdom is not really so. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD” (Is. 55:8, the 5th Reading). We can only pray to discern how God is moving events to realize His plan of salvation, and to know what He wants us to do exactly.
The story of Mary Magdalene’s visit to the tomb is the same human experience when we encounter extreme feelings, especially when what started as sad suddenly becomes a fearful, and then a joyful experience. In our earthly life pilgrimage, we must be able to discern the wisdom of sacrificing for eternal life. When we are able to do this, the “sacrifice” we consider isn’t actually one of pain, but something of a motivation to reunite with the Lord in eternal joy. Most great stories start with a sad event, but eventually end up triumphant and happy. In our spiritual journey, it is much the same. While life on earth may give us sorrow and pain, we can still be joyful and at peace for we know that there is something to look forward to in the end. This is something that we do after we have found the “pearl of great price”! (Mt. 13:46) As American comedian Steven Wright once said, “Hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now”.
Starting with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday continuing through the Good Friday veneration of the Cross and the Easter vigil on Holy Saturday, the Easter Triduum marks the most significant events of Holy Week. These events form the foundations of our faith and we know that without these coming to pass, there wouldn’t have been any Easter celebration.
Let us not waste the message of Easter, to “seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near.” (Is. 55:6) Let us joyfully celebrate and share the Word, proclaim the Splendor of the King: the Lord is Risen, Alleluia!