To be celebrated on 16th and 17st April 2022
EASTER VIGIL: Gospel reading: Luke 24:1-12
vs.1 On the first day of the week, at the first sign of dawn, they went to the tomb with the spices they had prepared.
vs.2 They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb,
vs.3 but on entering discovered that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there.
vs.4 As they stood there not knowing what to think, two men in brilliant clothes suddenly appeared at their side.
vs.5 Terrified, the women lowered their eyes. But the two men said to them, “Why look among the dead for someone who is alive?
vs.6 He is not here; he has risen. Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee:
vs.7 that the Son of Man had to be handed over into the power of sinful men and be crucified, and rise again on the third day.”
vs.8 And they remembered his words.
vs.9 When the women returned from the tomb they told all this to the Eleven and to all the others.
vs.10 The women were Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. The other women with them also told the apostles,
vs.11 but this story of theirs seemed pure nonsense, and they did not believe them.
vs.12 Peter, however, went running to the tomb. He bent down and saw the binding cloths but nothing else; he then went back home, amazed at what had happened.
Easter Sunday Morning
Gospel reading: John 20-1:9 (Luke 24:1-12 may be used at the Day Mass)
vs.1 It was very early on the first day of the week, and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb
vs.2 and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb” she said “and we don’t know where they have put him.”
vs.3 So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb.
vs.4 They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first;
vs.5 he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go it.
vs.6 Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground,
vs.7 and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.
vs.8 then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed.
vs.9 Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
We have four commentators available from whom you may wish to choose .
Michel DeVerteuil : A Trinidadian Holy Ghost Priest, director of the Centre of Biblical renewal .
Thomas O’Loughlin: Professor of Historical Theology, University of Wales, Lampeter.
Sean Goan: Studied scripture in Rome, Jerusalem and Chicago and teaches at Blackrock College and works with Le Chéile
Donal Neary SJ: Editor of The Sacred Heart Messenger
Michel de Verteuil
Lectio Divina The Year of Luke
1. General Comments for the Vigil
The resurrection of Jesus which we celebrate on this Vigil Night is the universal story of God’s grace triumphing over evil. Meditating on the biblical texts ahead of the liturgical celebration will help us enter personally into the mystery.
Each of the four gospels tells its own story of how the women discovered that Jesus was risen from the dead. Our meditation must always be based on the text we have before us. Being conscious of what is proper to the author often helps us to read the passage as if for the first time.
St Luke’s account, which we read this year, has its own sequence of events. He says that the women discovered first that the body of Jesus was not there; as they were standing there, the angels (two, not one as in Matthew and Mark) announced to them the good news of the resurrection.
Only St Luke includes the words of the angel which express very dramatically the mystery of the resurrection as it is always experienced, “Why look among the dead for someone who is alive?”
St Luke generally gives more importance to the role of women than the other evangelists. It is significant then that in his account the women are not told by the angels to bring the good news to the eleven; they do so of their own accord.
In verses 11 and 12 he highlights the incredulity of the eleven, with a hint that this was “an old wives’ tale”. As always in St Luke, the lowly are raised up while the mighty are cast down from their thrones (1:52).
“Two men looked out through prison bars; one saw mud, the other stars.” Traditional saying
Lord, we thank you for faithful women,
spouses, mothers, members of our church communities.
When the rest of us give up on others
– a wayward child,
– a parish group that has lost its way,
– a political movement dogged by corruption,
– a relationship that is going nowhere,
they continue to hope.
What we call the end they see as the first day of a new time,
what we call night they recognise as the first sign of dawn.
Because they are at the tomb with spices they had prepared,
they are the first to discover that the stone has been rolled away
from the tomb and the body is not there;
while we continue to look among the dead for someone who is alive,
they receive the good news that he is not there and has risen to new life.
Lord, we thank you for resurrection moments
– we had given up hope that we would ever be reconciled with a friend,
when all of a sudden we were relating as before;
– one morning a loved one gave up drink or drugs;
– a dying friend who had long refused to see a priest asked to do so;
– opposite sides in a dispute started to negotiate.
We remember how when we understood that the large stone
Which was blocking new life was now rolled away,
We were like the women at the tomb of Jesus,
We stood there not knowing what to think.
It was all so unexpected that we dared not raise our eyes in case it was not true.
Only gradually we understood that we were looking among the dead
For someone who was alive.
We remembered the words we had been told many years before,
That sooner or later we all have to be handed over into the power of evil,
To be crucified and rise again on the third day.
Thank you, Lord.
“When we love the other, we obtain from God the key to understanding who he is and who we are.” …Thomas Merton
Lord, faithful love, the kind that brings people to a tomb with spices
on the first day of the week and at the first sign of dawn
is the only power that can roll away the great stone
blocking crucified ones from rising to new life.
“Lord, look through my eyes, speak through my lips. May my poor human presence be a reminder, however weak, of your divine presence.” …Don Helder Camara
Lord, we pray that in spite of our sins,
our church communities may be signs of hope for society;
that like the two angels in brilliant clothes
who appeared to the women at the tomb of Jesus,
we may announce to those who mourn that,
though it may seem that love has been handed over
into the power of hatred and violence
and securely locked away with a great stone blocking the way out,
it is not among the dead, but still alive in the world.
“When I tell people that above all I want justice for my people,
they look at me as if I am crazy. Idealism is alien to them.” President Aristide, speaking about government officials, 1994
Lord, forgive us that we have become so accustomed to evil,
– in ourselves, in other people, and in society –
that we have become cynical.
When people speak to us about resurrection and new life
Their story seems to us pure nonsense and we do not believe them.
Even when, like Peter, we go running to the tomb
and see the cloths that once kept men in bondage now left lying on the ground,
we merely go back home amazed at what happened and still do not believe.
“The seed does not see the flower.” Chinese proverb
Lord, we always like to know what the future holds for us.
At this Easter time we think of people of faith whom we have known
– elderly people in our communities, parents and grandparents,
teachers, founders of a movement we now belong to.
As they walked the roads of whatever peaceful Galilee they lived in,
they knew a day would come when they would be handed over
into the power of sinful men, perhaps even to be crucified,
but they trusted that with your help they would rise again on the third day.
Today we remember their words with gratitude.
2. General Comments for the Easter Day Mass
John’s account of the resurrection is in two stages:
– verses 1-2 are about Mary of Magdala’s experience;
– verses 3 to 10 tell us about the experience of the two disciples.
In verses 1 and 2 you might like to focus on the symbolism of it being “still dark” and yet a “first day” of a new time. The large stone symbolizes all the forces, human and other, that keep God’s grace in the bondage of the tomb.
Your experience will help you interpret how Mary responded. Did she run in confusion? Or in fear?
The story of Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved can be read from various points of view. You can take them together as experiencing the resurrection, focusing on the details, especially the cloths lying on the ground, useless now since Jesus was alive, but also on the fact that until they saw the empty tomb they did not believe the teaching of the scriptures.
St John makes a point of contrasting the two apostles. If you would like to meditate on this aspect of the story, see Peter as symbol of the Church leader, while “the other disciple” is the one who, while having no position of authority, is specially loved by Jesus and, perhaps as a result, is first in faith.
Lord, we thank you for moment of grace.
We had been in a situation of death
– a relationship that meant a lot to us seemed dead
– an addiction held us in its grip
– our country was locked in civil strife.
Then the day came that would turn out to be the first of a new era.
We were mourning as usual,
Like Mary of Magdala making a routine visit to the tomb of Jesus,
But saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb.
Naturally, we looked for some simple explanation,
“they have taken the Lord our of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him,”
but it wasn’t anything like that,
it was what the scriptures teach us, that your work must always rise again.
“They can kill a bishop, but they cannot kill the Church which is the people.”
…Archbishop Romero, some days before he was martyred
Lord, we thank you for people of faith.
They believe the teaching of the scriptures
That your work may lie in the tomb for some days
But it must rise again.
“When the underprivileged unite and struggle for justice, is that not a sign of the presence and action of God in our time?”
…Musumi Kanyaro, Committee of Women in Church and Society, Lutheran World Federation
Lord, as we look around the world today
we see what Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved saw as they entered his tomb.
Cloths are lying on the ground that we can recognise for what they are
– attitudes of passivity that look like fine linen but in fact kept your chosen ones in the tomb.
Whereas you have once more fulfilled what you taught us in all the scriptures
and we had not really believed until this moment:
that you will always raise up your chosen ones when the world imprisons them in a tomb.
Lord, we pray today for those who were baptised last night,
Today they have enthusiasm, for them you are alive and present;
But there will certainly come a time when they will experience you absent,
When prayer will be like Mary of Magdala going in the gloom of early morning
To visit the tomb of Jesus.
In fact they will be like people who mourn for a spouse or a child
Without even having the comfort of the dead body to look at.
This is the way they will have to pass
because until they have had experiences like this they will not really believe
the teaching of the scriptures that your grace cannot be overpowered by evil
and that your presence within us must always, like Jesus, rise again from the tomb.
Lord, we like to feel that we have you within our grasp:
– that our prayers are always answered;
– that we are living in a way that is pleasing to you;
– that the times, gestures and words of our prayers are just right.
Teach us that we must be prepared to lose that security
and experience being abandoned, until we live in trust only
and see all those things that we considered important
like the cloths in the empty tomb of Jesus –
fine linen cloths, but they were keeping him in the tomb.
Now we see them on the ground and also the cloth that had been over his head
not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.
Liturgical Resources for the Year of Luke
1. The resurrection is the source of Christian hope: our lives are lot circumscribed by life as we know it now, but can open onto a new life in the presence of God. This is the mystery beyond words, yet somehow today it has to be the subject of our preaching. However, there are two widely held misconceptions which prevent people hearing what the liturgy says about the resurrection today in its symbols, prayers, and readings. A useful task in the homily is to draw attention to these mistaken ideas. The first is that it was some sort of resusscitation, a trick to prove that Jesus was right, an event which you either believe happened or did not happen back then. This misconception distracts from a hope in a ressurection in the future. The resurrection is not about resuscitation, but our future transformation. The second, and far more widespread notion, is that resurrection is just a fancy terms for a belief in an afterlife of some sort or other – the number of practising Christians who think that re-incarnation can be squared with Christian faith is an indication of this confusion’s prevalence. Our faith is not about some kind of post mortem survival, but in God’s gift of the fullness of life.
2. So, the first point is to avoid ‘explaining’ the mystery as if it were a series of ‘facts’ that can just be acknowledged as having happened so-and-so many years ago. In earlier times each item in the resurrection accounts was studied like the clues in a detective story with the aim of building an apologetic that would explain the ‘how’ of the resurrection and the ‘what’ of the risen body of Jesus. But the kerygma of the resurrection lies not in the details of ‘the first Easter,’ but in the reality that those who join their lives with the Christ shall share a fuller, glorious, transformed life as the gift of the Father. We can inherit the Father’s gift of glory as the final fulfilment of human life. It is worth pointing out that the disciple today must not be distracted by the ‘how’ and ‘what’ questions of ‘the first Easter’ from remembering that Christian faith strains onward to the future: the cost of discipleship now and tomorrow is worth it for the path of righteousness does not end with a grave. Many wonder whether or not they ‘can believe’ in the empty tomb, but this misses the point. Belief in the resurrection is seen when someone, even in the face of still follows the of love with
3. Second, belief in the resurrection is not some christianised version of a belief in the immortality of the soul. A belief in immortality is a human sense that a bit, some sort of spiritual residue, can survive without a body. The belief in the resurrection is that we are each creatures willed by God, in whose histories God is interested as the loving Father, and into whose history he has sent his Son sharing our humanity, and therefore whose whole existence’ spirit, soul, and body’ can be transformed to become part of his Son’s glorious body. Easter is not a celebration of a ‘survival factor’ in humanity, but of the Father’s love so that nothing good shall perish, but be given even fuller life.
4. To believe in the message of Easter is not a matter of tombs long ago in Palestine, but having the conviction that it is worthwhile to seek to bring light in darkness, to oppose lies with truth, to work for justice in the face of human corruption, and to say that death does not have the last word.
5. When we profess our faith in the resurrection of Jesus we are not setting out something with the intention that our understandings should grasp it and comprehend it. Jesus has been transformed to a new kind of existence by the Father beyond our understanding and we can only express it in symbols such as that of the empty tomb – tombs, after all, are designed to hold their remains indefinitely. By contrast, the proclamation ‘Jesus is Risen’ is an invitation to share in a new way of seeing God and the universe, and it is only from within this new vision (faith) that it makes sense. Hence, the ancient theological dictum, based in Isaiah 7:9, ‘unless you believe, you will not understand.’ The message of Acts and the gospel is that we are invited to live, to live in a new way, to live in Christ – and that in living in this way we discover in that the Father will raise us
6. If we join with those who accept the invitation Christ, which is what we say we are doing in accepting baptism and renewing our baptismal promises, we become part of a new people. The Christian ‘thing’ is about being part of a people, not about individualist survival or a privately-defined relationship with ‘the Wholly Other’, and as such it
commits us to a way of living. The early followers were referred to as being on ‘The Way’ (see Acts 9:2; 18:26; 19:9 and 23; 22:4,14 and 22) and our oldest extant teaching manual (The Didache) begins by contrasting ‘The Way of Life’ (to be followed by disciples) with ‘The Way of Death.’
7. The thought of resurrection may fill us with joy, but the lifedemands that accepting it makes on us can be great: we must do as we would be done to (cf Didache 1:2; Mt 7:12; Lk 6:31), we must practice the forgiveness we desire from the Father (cf the ‘Our Father), and we must act with gentleness. Only in constant effort to live life in this way can we glimpse the truth of the empty tomb.
8. To live this life demands patience, a waiting for the good things to be revealed – the practice of the virtue of hope: we must always be of good courage … for we walk by faith, not by sight (cf 2 Cor 5:6f). Today is our day for rejoicing in the risen Christ, for thanking the Father for his love, and for reminding ourselves of that to which we have committed ourselves: The Way. Death has contended with Life, yet despite tombs and symbols of death all around us, we proceed to commit ourselves to life, confident that as the Father transformed the existence of Jesus, so he will transform the whole creation.
3. Sean Goan
Let the reader understand
Gospel: John 20:1-9
This account of the first Easter Sunday morning is significant in that it highlights how each of us as believers must come to terms with the mystery of the resurrection. Mary reports to Peter and the beloved disciple that the tomb is empty. They in turn run to investigate and, while the disciple reaches the tomb first, he holds back in deference to Peter, the leader of the twelve. It is only when the beloved disciple enters the tomb that we are told an appropriate response to the event -‘he saw and he believed’. The beloved disciple is unnamed but in John’s gospel he is present and close to Jesus at all the key moments: the last supper, Calvary and now the tomb. In a sense he symbolises where all true believers should be, for each of us is called to be a beloved disciple who accompanies Jesus on his way: ‘Where I am there also my servant will be’ Jn 12:26.
Easter is what makes us Christians. The life of Jesus is not put before us merely as a good example of someone who was true to his beliefs. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and it is Easter that demonstrates this. In Jesus God has taken on our life and transformed it. Through baptism we share in the very life of the crucified and risen Christ and so we are made new. It may be that at times we are like Peter, who on reaching the tomb just looks in and wonders, but there comes a point when we are asked to take the risk of faith of seeing and believing that God could indeed love us this much.
4. Donal Neary S.J.
Death is not final
The first Easter parade was just a crowd of women going down the street where once they had sang Hosanna. Another time they had gone with him to death. Now if s just themselves – two Marys, Joanna and other women. The parade was dull, without the one they followed – but they wanted to care for the body with spices, using only the best.
And then it was all different. They saw no body, which frightened them more than any death could have. Then there were angels with strange messages, but their hearts believed quickly and they remembered what he had said. Often, he had talked of death and resurrection. He was the sort of man for whom evil and death could not be final.
They were then to go to the apostles, and they were to find out that caring for Christ’s body now would be a different thing. The women announced this divine news to the men. This would have been contrary to the culture at the time, but Jesus went against a lot of beliefs and prejudices.
Caring for the body of Christ now means caring for each other. They would spend the rest of their lives caring for the new body of Christ, and we’re the same in caring and being cared for. The risen Christ is in all of us.
We are his body. Not a word of God can be spoken without human words. God reaches us through each other.
The Easter parade now is made up of all of us following our risen Lord, following life that never dies, and the truth of the gospel that can keep us going. This is the love of the risen Lord, which is the lifeblood of the Church.
Jesus Christ you are risen,
you are risen indeed,