Lectio Divina: Easter Sunday - Cycle A

on 08 Apr, 2023
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Bangalore (India), SR. ANULA IRVIN SUGUNA, April 9, 2023.- Easter Sunday is a joyous day for everyone. On Easter morning, Jesus opened heaven for the salvation of all. The story of the mystery of the Resurrection of Jesus is so familiar to us that we can sometimes lose sight of how stunning it must have been for Jesus’ closest disciples to arrive at his burial place, only to find an empty tomb.

GOSPEL

Jn 20: 1-9. Seekers of the signs of the Risen Lord

“It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb.

And came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved.
‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,’ she said, ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So, Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen clothes lying on the ground, but did not go in.

Simon Peter, following him, also came up, went into the tomb, saw the linen clothes lying on the ground and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen clothes but rolled up in a place by itself.

Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had still not understood the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.”
 

STUDY OF THE TEXT

All the four Gospels agree that the Resurrection happened on the day after the Sabbath of the Jewish Pasch. John, so sensitive to symbols sees in this ‘first day of the week’ (v.1) a new beginning, a new creation, a new week of Genesis. The ancient Fathers of the Church who had meditated deeply on the Scriptures, related the ‘first creation’ with the ‘second creation’ wherein “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away (Rev 21:4). The historical point is that women (v.1) were the first witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus and John chooses to focus on one woman, Mary of Magdala. She came, she saw, she was shocked. She ran (v.2) to tell the responsible leaders about the ‘empty tomb.’ The word ‘tomb’ is repeated seven times in this single passage. The empty tomb alone is not a proof by itself to lead us to faith but John saw the linen wrappings (v.3) slumped and the piece of cloth which had been on his head, not slumped with the other clothes but distinctly rolled up. John even stresses that the ‘napkin’ which was on Jesus’ head was rolled up (v.7).

In short, the body just disappeared and the linen cloths merely slumped down as they were. This was witnessed by two of the disciples, Peter and John (the other disciple whom Jesus loved) who ran to the tomb. Peter ran but the other disciple outran to overtake him (v.4). The ‘second’ overtook the ‘first.’ Peter saw and wondered what had happened, but John saw and believed (v.8). To believe, we must have the eyes of heart, (the eyes of love). It is because of this love that John ran faster. Faith is stimulated and strengthened by love. The empty tomb and the linen clothes become a speaking sign to John, even before he sees Jesus in the apparitions. These signs reveal to him the meaning of resurrection. The Scripture passages Hosea 6:2; Ps 2:7; 15:8; Jonah 2:1 come alive.

MEDITATION

According to late Pope Benedict XVI, the resurrection was like an explosion of light, a cosmic event linking heaven and earth. Above all, it was an explosion of love. We meditate on three important persons in the Gospel of today.

  • Love makes us see the truth: Her ardent love for Jesus made Mary of Magdala run to the tomb early in the morning. The verbs described in the Gospel, ‘she came’, ‘she saw’ and ‘she ran to tell the disciples’ express her deep love. Her running indicates the urgency of the mission. She has experienced the love of Jesus only for a few years (may be for one or two years), but the impact of that love is being radiated for generations …What about me? How deep is my Love for Jesus? How ardent and eager am I to speak about Jesus to others?
  • Love is required for faith: Faith has something in common with the deepest human realities. We never see the love of those who love us. We only have the signs of their love. But these signs reveal their significance only to those who know how to decipher them. A gesture, a word, a gift all these are ambivalent and fragile signs. These signs need to be interpreted. A real human encounter is always moving. Boundless love is needed for two people to perceive the messages they exchange. The empty tomb and linen clothes were understood by the one who loved. The meaning of these signs was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit. How deep is my faith in the Risen Lord? Do I allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the important matters to me?
  • Love demands to hope against hope: Let us put ourselves in the shoes of Peter, his deep sadness after losing his Master whom he denied. Now, the news of the empty tomb and the linen clothes that he saw, left him in bewilderment. Was there hope, deep down in his heart that he would be able to meet his Master and ask for forgiveness? He didn’t understand the Scriptures until he was clothed with the Holy Spirit that transformed him to die for Christ. Am I open to the Holy Spirit who fills me with hope?

Neither Peter, nor John, nor Mary of Magdala came to believe in the Resurrection without enduring confusion and uncertainty. But, out of confusion comes clarity. The empty tomb and the linen clothes can only mean that Jesus is truly alive, raised up and transformed by the Father.

PRAYER

O Father, Author of life and death, Your Love for us is steadfast, full of mercy and compassion. Help us to love you with an ardent love like Mary of Magdala, Peter and John, the beloved disciple that we too may experience the Risen Christ in our personal life and become true witnesses of His Good News. Stay beside us in times of confusions and bring us clarity, shedding the light of Risen Christ in our lives.

CONTEMPLATION

Peter saw the linen wrappings and bewildered. Risen Lord, help me to trust in every minute resurrection experience that you offer in my life.

John saw and believed. Risen Lord, help me to see you in others and believe.

Mary of Magdala ran to tell the disciples. Risen Lord, help me to run for the sake of your mission.