Easter Sunday – 2011
Acts 10:34; 37-43
The first reading for today is really the centerpiece of the account from the Acts of the Apostles of Peter’s mission to Cornelius and all in his household. Peter was the one surely who encouraged those good folk to Baptism, but Peter was himself encouraged by God to take this step through visions and signs, including the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius and family just as had happened to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room at Pentecost. The revelation from God was that even though they were pagans Peter should not to hesitate to baptize them and bind them to Jesus, Whose life-giving death upon the Cross and glorious Resurrection were meant to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth and to benefit all who believed in Him. Easter is a universal feast; Easter is for everyone and for all peoples of all times.
In the second volume of the Holy Father’s book Jesus of Nazareth, which came out not that long ago, he speaks of the clear understanding from the very beginning that the good news of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection was not reserved for the People of the Covenant, the Jews. In fact, quoting St. Paul to the Romans 11:25, the Holy Father unites himself with our whole tradition which teaches that “... a hardening has come upon a part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved…” The mission to the pagans was of the utmost urgency, so that God’s beloved and chosen people could also be brought to Him in Christ in accordance with God’s plan.
This mission is urgent yet today; we need as followers of Christ, as His disciples and ministers, to do all in our power to see to it that all people, starting with family and friends, come in, are bound to Christ, the Savior of all mankind. No one should be left out through the fault of the witnesses to the Resurrection. We through our Catholic faith, we the baptized are obliged and empowered to carry on that same mission today for the sake of the life of the world.
In this morning’s Gospel everyone is running. Mary of Magdala, saw the stone moved away and ran straight to Peter. Peter and the other disciple then ran to the tomb. We could say that running is what you do in a panic, but I think in this case running is what you do in the face of something this big, this great. As the Gospel says:
“Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.”
My hope and prayer for you today, for all of us, is that our Lenten penance, discipline, training (you choose the word!) now completed has us in better shape for a little running. Like Mary of Magdala, like Peter and the other discipline, we are not simply passive spectators to the great mystery of Christ’s victory in the glory of the Resurrection. We form an important part of the picture, which should see us running too, running to tell others the good news so that they with us can be bound to Christ. The goal is that we might sooner reach that “full number of Gentiles” which St. Paul talks about in the hope that Israel might come in too.
The joy of Easter should not be lost on anyone and it is up to us to run and tell one and all that Jesus has won the victory over sin and death. There is no such thing as oblivion in death, thanks to the Risen One; life is not ended but changed. Alleluia!