Easter Morning Mass 2012
Homily by Fr. Mark Weidner: 4-08-2012
Dear brothers and sisters, as I read over this homily after I’d finished it, it struck me how plain it was. I simply walk through that first Easter day with you as we move from darkness to light.
On the first fay of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark. It was still dark dear brothers and sisters, we can begin right there, in the dark. Jesus, the light of the world, is dead and buried. It is very dark indeed. But before Jesus died he put several pieces into place that would live through the darkest hours of his absence. First piece, St Peter. Second piece, St John.
Peter first. Jesus had told Peter that he, Peter, would deny him three times. But before that, he also said, with all the apostles gathered round, “Peter, Satan has demanded to have you all that he might sift you all like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Peter, and once you have repented, you must strengthen your brothers.” That was Peter’s great task after the terrible death of Jesus. Thanks to Jesus’ prayer, he was the web, the binding force that held them all together.
Then there was John. He too received a special commission from Jesus. The only apostle we know of who was with Jesus on Calvary and near our blessed Mother. And Jesus said to his mother of John, “Woman, this is your son.” Then, to John of Mary, “this is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
It is no hard stretch of the imagination to see John spending time with our blessed Mother on that dark Saturday. There is so much pain there. But there is something else too: faith. According to our father, St Bernard, Mary knew by faith that her Son would rise again and soon. On several occasions Jesus mentioned that to his apostles. But that part about rising from the dead never seemed to register with them. And now on this dark Saturday, John comes into close contact with this woman of faith, Mary. I suggest he was influenced by her faith.
Then comes the night and the first day of the new week and in the early morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw the stone that covered the entrance removed. She ran to Peter and John with the news. They ran to the tomb. Entered. They saw the cloths that had covered Jesus. John believed. The first word we have of an apostle believing in the resurrection of Jesus without seeing him.
Light begins to shine and to dispel darkness. It is only the beginning. Later when Mary Magdalene is at the tomb still grieving, Jesus appears to her. She thinks he is the gardener until he speaks her name, “Mary.” Then, like a flash, she knows him and is on her knees. The day continues to brighten.
But two of the disciples leave the city early, sad. They’re walking to the town of Emmaus, seven miles away when a stranger joins them. They get talking, the three of them. They explain to this stranger why they are sad. And he explains the Holy Scriptures to them and why they shouldn’t be sad. And, although they only reflect on it later, their hearts are burning when he speaks to them. They press him to stay with them for it’s almost evening by this time as they arrive at Emmaus. He accepts their invitation, joins them at table where he breaks the bread. With that, they recognize him. And with that, he is gone.
They hurry back to the city, late as it is. They come to the Christians gathered together. But even before they can tell of their experience, they are told by the others, “the Lord has risen indeed and has appeared to Peter.” That settles it! Peter, the rock. They have a solid foundation to build on now. And while they’re all gathered together, suddenly, Jesus, himself, is there.
“Peace be with you.” Shalom. Shalom was the conventional Jewish greeting but it wasn’t simple convention this time. It carried grace and healing. Next Sunday’s Gospel continues the Easter story at this point. And so we can leave it here for this morning.
Dear brothers and sisters, it’s Easter day. A day that starts in darkness but ends in bright light. May that light of Jesus risen shine in your hearts.