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Easter Sunday

In 10 Scripture Applied on 2014/04/20 at 12:00 AM
  • Today we read the marvelous story from St. Matthew’s Gospel of our Lord appearing to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection.
  • From this version of the post‐resurrection events, it seems that St. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary with her were the first to see the risen Lord.
  • Perhaps there is some consolation to be found in this thought that, despite the terrible sins of her life, our Lord found Mary Magdalene worthy of such a great honor, for this privilege proves our Lord’s deep mercy and love for even the most sinful among us.
  • However, this Gospel and the question of to whom our Lord first appeared has raised considerable speculation over the centuries, for the Scriptures do not record our Lord’s resurrection in detail.
  • From today’s Gospel we can only deduce that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were up early on Easter Sunday, found the tomb empty, and then our Lord appeared to them.
  • Conspicuously absent from all of the Post‐Resurrection narratives is the very person who was most closely united to Jesus during His life on earth: His Mother Mary.
  • Indeed, the very last we hear of Mary is at the crucifixion, when in His final act of filial solicitude, our Lord lovingly places her within the care of St. John, the disciple He loved most, and the only one to stay with Him throughout the entirety of His terrible Passion.
  • Our Catholic Tradition gives us some answers as to what happened to our Lady after Jesus died. We know that she was present as Jesus was taken down from the cross, and that she lovingly held her dead Son in her arms before He was prepared for burial.
  • We know from the Book of Acts that after Jesus ascended into Heaven, Mary was with the 11 apostles in prayer, and it is a traditional belief, as well, that Mary was present for the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
  • We know, too, that Mary spent the remainder of her life in the care of St. John, and that when the course of her earthly life was over, Mary was assumed body and soul into Heaven, where she was reunited with Jesus and crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth.
  • But beyond these details, we know very little of what happened to our Lady after Jesus’ death.
  • In one of his weekly audiences in 1997, Pope John Paul II took up the issue of our Lord’s resurrection appearances, stating that, although Scripture is silent on the issue, it is wholly reasonable to believe that the Virgin Mary was the first to see her risen Son.
  • He stated that: “The unique and special nature of the presence of the Virgin at Calvary, and her perfect union with the Son in his suffering on the Cross, seem to postulate a very particular participation on her part in the mystery of the Resurrection.”
  • Pope John Paul II believed that the Blessed Virgin Mary: “was probably also a privileged witness to the Resurrection of Christ, in this way completing her participation in all the essential moments of the paschal mystery.”
  • He went on to conclude with a most important point: “Embracing the risen Jesus, Mary is, in addition, a sign and anticipation of humanity, which hopes to reach its fulfillment in the resurrection of the dead.”
  • In other words, we see in the Blessed Virgin Mary our hopes for resurrection fulfilled. We see in revealed in the mysteries of her life, most especially her Assumption into Heaven, the salvation possible for us all.
  • The favors granted by God to our Lady offer proof of His goodness and mercy, and they show us what is possible for mankind: namely, the perfection of our human nature so that we may be fully and eternally united with our Lord in the glory of Heaven.
  • This is what our Lord makes possible for us through His death and resurrection, which we honor and celebrate today. And we know that this is possible, for we see how our Lord has already carried this out in the life of His Immaculate Mother.
  • For the past three days we have been recalling our Lord’s Paschal Mystery: how He suffered for us and because of us, dying a most ignoble death on the cross, and being buried in the tomb.
  • But it is not simply bare historical facts that we recall each Easter. Easter is our annual celebration of the spiritual reality made possible by Christ’s Paschal Mystery!
  • Out of love for sinful man, Christ slept the sleep of death so that we might rise with Him to new life. He went into the darkness of Hell so that we might be enlightened by His grace.
  • And He took on the bondage of sin so that we might experience the true freedom of the sons and daughters of God. This is what we celebrate today; this is what we believe
  • And in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we see our Lord’s Easter promises to humanity fulfilled. [It is for this reason that our stained glass windows depicting the Resurrection and the Assumption of Mary are placed directly opposite one another!]
  • Because she remained united with Christ throughout her life, most especially as He suffered and died on the cross, Mary now enjoys eternal life. As such, Mary is our constant reminder of the eternal blessings possible for those who believe in Christ.
  • My dear brothers and sisters, in His resurrection from the dead today, Jesus makes good on the promises to grant new and eternal life to all who believe in Him.
  • With Mary as our model, let us make good on the promises we made to Jesus at our baptism by always remaining faithful to Him in this life. In doing so, let us trust that He will grant us eternal blessedness in the life to come.

Copyright 2011 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

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