From Sorrow to Joy
April 16, 2022 (readings)
- Easter Vigil
- Cathy Stamper
At daybreak on the first day of the week the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.” And they remembered his words. Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the Apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, I give you thanks and praise for the miracle of Easter. In your loving mercy, you sent your Son to redeem us and to open the gates of Heaven. As I take this time today to reflect on your word and be in your presence, fill me with faith, conviction, and determination to live each day in service to you. Fill my heart with your love and make my life a reflection of that love in my interactions with others.
Mournful Duty: When Mary Magdalene and the other women went to Jesus’ tomb, it was with heavy and saddened hearts. Their beloved teacher, the man they had come to believe was their Messiah and Lord, had been put to death like a common criminal. These women must have been reeling from the ups and downs of this emotional week. We can assume they witnessed the joyous acclaim of Palm Sunday and then saw the horrifying events of Jesus’ Passion and death. Although only Mary Magdalene and Mary stood at the foot of Jesus’ cross with John, several other women now gathered to assist in the somber task of anointing his body for his final resting place. These women were fulfilling their duty to the Lord they loved, and because of their faithfulness, they were about to become witnesses to the greatest miracle in human history.
Angels Appeared: The two men in dazzling clothes were angels of God, and indeed they brought tidings of great joy. They remind the women of Jesus’ words about the Temple being destroyed and raised up in three days. Suddenly the women understood that Jesus was in fact alive, that he had conquered death itself. Any lingering doubts they might have harbored were gone now. They knew that he indeed is the Messiah, the Son of God. Only the Son of God could defeat death itself. Buoyed by this incredible experience, they raced off to share the news with the disciples. May the Holy Spirit grant each of us a heart overflowing with Easter graces that we can joyfully share with family and friends.
Disbelief to Belief: Beset by the same sadness and disillusionment as the women, the Apostles did not at first believe them, dismissing their claims as nonsense. Peter alone, probably with a strong prompting from the Holy Spirit, raced off to the tomb and found things just as the women reported. He was amazed at what had happened. We can be sure he recalled the words of Jesus regarding the Temple, as well as Jesus’ insistence that he must drink the cup his father had given him. Suddenly, new hope and joy must have filled the heart of Peter and the Apostles. “Why should we today sing Alleluia, Praise the Lord? Because this day we are fed, freed, assured of the truth, and given promises of being endowed, in our resurrection, with the gifts of clarity, agility, brightness, and impassibility, which Christ showed in his Resurrection” (St. Vincent Ferrer).
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I believe, but please help me when I struggle with unbelief. So often the events of Easter seem far away and almost mythical when they are retold year after year. Fill my soul with the awareness that you actually conquered sin and death. Fill my heart with gratitude for your love. Fill my entire being with the determination to follow you in all I do.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make an act of faith, thanking you from the bottom of my heart for the miracle of your Resurrection.
For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church 638.
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