PONDERING THE MYSTERY OF THE RESURRECTION
The Risen Lord and the Women at the tomb
The resurrection narrative that describes the visit of the women to Jesus’ is ound in Mt 29:1-10; Mk 16:1-8; and Lk 24: 1-2. The synoptics differ on many details in the accounts but the agree on the following:
- The women went to anoint Jesus’ body on Easter Sunday.
- They found that the stone sealing the tomb had been rolled away.
- The body of Jesus was gone.
- A message was given that Jesus had risen.
The fact that the tomb was found empty taht Easter monring is recorded by witnesses who certainly had not expected to find it empty. The empty itself does not “prove” Jesus’ Resurrection, but it certainly opened up its possibility. When linked to the Risen Christ’s appearances, it confirms the Resurrection event (CFC 647).
THE RISEN LORD APPEARS BEFORE MARY MAGDALENE (Jn 20:11 – 18)
Mary stood outside the empty tomb, weeping. The Risen Jesus appeared to her. She mistook him for the gardener. it was only when Jesus called out her name that she recognized Jesus and cried, “Rabboni!” (My Teacher!) and fell at his feet. Mary failed to recognize the Savior hwen he First appeared to her. The Risen Jesus had been transformed. His body was not glorified. Thus Mary was confused. Mary loved Jesus but her faith in him was immature compared to the faith she and the apostles and other disciples would develop with the grace of the Risen Jesus. When Jesus called to her, “Mary,” her eyes were opened. The word of God penetrated her heart, “Mary,” her eyes were opened. The Word of God penetrated her heart, allowing her to recognize the Risen Christ. We need faith to recognize the Risen Jesus in our lives. But faith is a gift–a divine grace, which enables us to freely respond on our part.
THE RISEN LORD APPEARS TO TWO DISCIPLES ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS (LK 24:13-31).
Two disciples had left the group of the apostles and were on their way to Emaus, some 19 miles from Jerusalem. On the road the Risen Christ, unrecognized, joined them, walked with them, and struck up a conversation with them. The two disciples, so caight up in their sorrow, thought that the man must be a stranger in Jersulame since he asked them about the tragic events that had so shaken them. The unrecognized Risen Jesus opened up the Scriptures to the two by interpreting the Old Testament prophecies about the Promised Messiah, especially about how “the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory” (LK 24:26). Captivated by the stranger’s teachings, the two invited him to dine with them since it was getting on late in the day. It was only when Jesus “took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them” (Lk 24:30) that their eyes were opened and they recognized him to be Jesus, risen from the dead (Lk 24:31). Then the Risen Christ disappeared from their midst.
Pope John Paul II wrote, “The Mass is our own Emmaus.” The first part of the story of the two disciples showed Jesus engaged in explaining the Scriptures to the tow. This is comparable to the liturgy of the Word in the Mass in which the Scriptures are read to the people. Just as the two disciples recognized the Risen Lord at the breaking of the bread (Lk 24:35), so too do we encounter the Risen Lord sacramentally in the liturgy of the Eucharist (CFC 1677).
THE RISEN LORD APPEARS BEFORE THE APOSTLES (LK 24:36-43)
Jesus appeared to the apostles who were hiding in the Cenacle room for fear of the Jews. Amazed and alarmed, they thought seeing a ghost. Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you.” Jesus showed thme his hands and feet. To calm them further and show them that he was not a gohast, Jesus asked from something to eat. The Apostles gave him some fish and Jesus ate this in their presence.
The Gospel’s insistence that Jesus at in the presence of his disciples was the early Churhc’s way of showing that the Risen crucified Jesus was not a ghost nor a corpse that had come back to earthly life. THe Risen Christ was alive in a transformed glorified existence. The Risen Lord was not a disembodied Spirit. The glorified body of the Resurrected Christ still bore the wounds of his Passion, showing that it is the “Crucified One” who is “risen from the dead.”
JESUS APPEARS BEFORE THOMAS (Jn 20:24-29)
“Seeing is believing” and “Believing first so you can see.” These two popular but partially misleadning sayings seem to fit the Gospel narrative of the doubting Thomas. Thomas was not around when the Risen Jesus first appeared to the apostles. Although all of his companions affirmed that they “had seen the Lord,” Thomas doubted waht they said. He would not believe what they related. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and out my hand into his side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25). Now a week later Jesus appeared to his disciples and Thomas was with them.
Jesus, who knowing the heart of Thomas, replied point by point to the conditions of Thmoas. “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring you hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas’ immediate response was, “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28).
Christ’s Resurrection has revolutionized our notion and image of God and the ultimate meaning and goal of our very own lives (CFC 620).
- Christ’s Resurrection completes his divine revelation. Just as the Israelites came to know God through the Exodus experience, Christians have come to know the triune through the resurrection of the Son Incarnate. The resurrection is the central event of God’s whole plan of salvation. We recite in the Creed: “… on the third day, he rose…” In Jewish understanding, third day refers to the day of God’s faithfulness, the day of a new start of salvation.
- The Resurrection confirmed and actualized everything that Jesus had done and taught about his person and mission: the Resurrection revealed the divinity of Jesus as nothing else possibly could (CFC 621). Indeed, Jesus Christ is our Savior because by his resurrection he has been glorified so he can share his life of perfect love with everyone. Through his Resurrection, Christ fulfilled, in a totally unexpected way, the Old Testament prophecies that promised a savior for all the world (CFC 622). Jesus was and is the Jewish Messiah, the Christ, but most of all, the Lord of the universe, not just a good man with a marvelous but idealistic dream.
- Without Resurrection, the “reality” of Christ’s revelation would be missing. His life and death would be only one more admirable example but no actual real objectivity. instead Christ is Risen—he is real, alive. This means that when we pray today to Jesus, the Risen One, when we receive him in Holy Communion, or simply when we consider him as “friend,” companion, or model, we know in our head and hear that he is REAL and ALIVE, divine as well as human. We can offer him our human concerns such as our being misunderstood by parents, teachers, or friends; feeling low in difficult times; or getting discouraged when we fail to win others over to our side. we are certain that the Risen Christ knows that our feelings are like because he has lived as a human. at the same time, because we believe he is Risen, we can be consoled that our unhappiness and sorrow are tmeporary, there is an end to all our pain, and that we can actually ask for the graces of courage and strength from Christ who has won over these earthly trials even death itself.