We rightfully look on Easter morning as a day of supreme joy. And that is as it should be.
But those who experienced that first Easter morn were confused and astonished. Mary of Magdala approaches the tomb before dawn on that Sunday, and is horrified to see the tomb open. She rushes back to Peter and John, the beloved disciple, with the news that someone has taken the body of Jesus, the one whom they so loved. Peter and John rush to the tomb. John arrives first but awaits Peter before entering the tomb. And Peter is as confused as Mary. It is John who first understands.
The resurrection is not a resuscitation of the crucified Jesus. His death was just as real as our own shall be. But our transformation shall be just as real. The apostle Paul likens it to a small seed—our present lives—which shall fall into the ground and die. But from that tiny seed a great tree shall emerge, as different from the seed as we shall be from whom we are today, to whom we shall be in the resurrection.
Peter and Mary, of course, came to understand. As we hear this morning from the Acts of the Apostles, we “ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” And so we too do, each time we gather for the Eucharist, and recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Alleluia!
Fr. Robert Grimes, S.J.
Dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center