Sinners first? It looks that way! Today’s Gospel, Mark 16:9-15, tells us that
“When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had driven seven demons. She went and told His companions who were mourning and weeping.”
Amazing! One would think that Jesus would have appeared first of all to His mother and/or His chosen companions, but that is not what the Gospel tells us. He appeared first to a woman who loved Him but who was also a public sinner, a woman who was shunned by the righteous. In His earthly life Jesus repeatedly reached out to sinners and to those who were marginalized. In His resurrected life, Jesus continues to do so. And Jesus continues to do so down through the centuries reaching out to you and to me. We, too, are sinners, and Jesus loves us and embraces us.
In today’s first reading, Acts 4:1-12, we are faced with consolation and mystery.
Peter and John are in the temple area preaching about Jesus and His Resurrection. They are arrested by orders of the temple authorities and questioned. They had cured a crippled man in the name of Jesus and they confessed this publicly: “…. it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead ….” And they make it very clear that “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” Jesus Christ alone is Lord and Savior!
Consolation: Blessed are we who believe, who confess that Jesus is Our Lord and Savior.
Mystery: What about the rest of humankind? If there is no salvation through anyone else, what happens to the millions of unbelievers who trudge through life doing the best they can? Are they lost? No! God wills the salvation of all. God is present to all men and women of good will. In some mysterious way, if not in this life, then at the time of death, all encounter Jesus and have an opportunity to accept Him as their Lord and Savior. Mystery! Jesus came not just for a select few but for all. His mercy, love and compassion encompass all and all have the opportunity to embrace Him.
In today’s Gospel, Luke 24:35-48, Jesus says to His disciples – and to you and me – that He gives us peace: “Peace be with you!”
What kind of peace does Jesus give? It is not some warm, fuzzy kind of feeling. It is not the absence of pain, sufferings, fears, etc. It is not freedom from struggles and the uncertainties of life. It is something totally different. The peace that Jesus gives us is a deep-seated, inner abiding conviction that no matter what happens in life, HE IS WITH US! We are never alone on life’s journey. He is always there giving us the graces, support and strength to march on. This kind of peace is His gift to us who believe.
Finding the tomb empty, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary ran to announce the news to the disciples. Jesus met them on the way and said to them, Matthew 28:8-15, “Do not be afraid!”
Do not be afraid, no matter what happens to us in life, the Risen Jesus is with us. We are never alone. He is always with us, and one day we shall see Him face to face. This is the great message of Easter!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!!
Jesus Christ has died for us and is risen from the dead!
These few words summarize the essence of the Christian Faith. God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son into the messiness of human experience . His Son, Jesus, became one of us in all things save sin. He taught us a new way of living. His teachings brought Him into conflict with the authorities of His day. He was betrayed by one of His chosen disciples; condemned to death and was crucified, died and was buried. And on the third day, He was raised up by the Father. The Good News is that He lives! He has conquered death. In fact, He has revealed death to be an illusion. And the promise that He holds out to us is that if we do our best to live according to His teachings, we shall never die. Death will be but a passage way from this life to a new life that will last forever.
We are the people of the promise. Blessed are we! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!