William Lee OFM




Easter is the annual festival commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the principal feast of the Christian year. It is celebrated on a Sunday on varying dates between March 22 and April 25 and is therefore called a movable feast. The dates of several other ecclesiastical festivals, extending over a period between the last Sunday of Easter and the first Sunday of Advent, are fixed in relation to the date of Easter.

Connected with the observance of Easter are the forty-day penitential season of Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday and concluding at midnight on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday; Holy Week, commencing on Palm Sunday, including Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion, and terminating with Holy Saturday; and the Octave of Easter, extending from Easter Sunday through the following Sunday. During the Octave of Easter in early Christian times, the newly baptized wore white garments, white being the liturgical color of Easter and signifying light, purity, and joy.

Modern-day Easter is derived from two ancient traditions: one Judeo-Christian and the other Pagan. Both Christians and Pagans have celebrated death and resurrection themes on or after the Spring Equinox for millennia. Most religious historians believe that many elements of the Christian observance of Easter were derived from earlier Pagan celebrations.


Origins of the name "Easter"

The name "Easter" originated with the names of an ancient Goddess and God. The Venerable Bede, (672-735 CE.) a Christian scholar, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe.  Similar "Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility [were] known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos."  Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring: "eastre." Similar Goddesses were known by other names in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, and were celebrated in the springtime. Some were:

An alternate explanation has been suggested. The name given by the Frankish church to Jesus' resurrection festival included the Latin word "alba" which means, "white." (This was a reference to the white robes that were worn during the festival.) "Alba" also has a second meaning: "sunrise." When the name of the festival was translated into German, the "sunrise" meaning was selected in error. This became "ostern" in German. Ostern has been proposed as the origin of the word "Easter". 

Sunday is named after a Pagan sun god, Sol.


Judeo-Christian origins of Easter

Easter embodies many pre-Christian traditions. The origin of its name is unknown. Scholars, however, accepting the derivation proposed by the 8th-century English scholar St. Bede, believe it probably comes from Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon name of a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility, to whom was dedicated a month corresponding to April. Her festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox; traditions associated with the festival survive in the Easter rabbit, a symbol of fertility, and in colored easter eggs, originally painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring, and used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts.

The Christian festival of Easter probably embodies a number of converging traditions; most scholars emphasize the original relation of Easter to the Jewish festival of Passover, or Pesach, from which is derived Pasch, another name for Easter. The early Christians, many of whom were of Jewish origin, were brought up in the Hebrew tradition and regarded Easter as a new feature of the Passover festival, a commemoration of the advent of the Messiah as foretold by the prophets.

The Christian celebration of Easter is linked to the Jewish celebration of the Passover. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were observed by the ancient Israelites early in each new year. (The Jewish people followed the Persian/Babylonian calendar and started each year with the Spring Equinox circa MAR-21) "Equinox" means, "equal night;" on that date of the year, the night and day are approximately equal. The name "Passover" was derived from the actions of the angel of death as described in the book of Exodus. The angel "passed over" the homes of the Jews which were marked with the blood obtained from a ritual animal sacrifice and exterminated the first born son of every family whose doorway was not so marked.


How the date of Easter is determined

Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 20, the nominal date of the Spring Equinox. Many sources incorrectly state that the starting date of the calculation is the actual day of the Equinox rather than the nominal date of March 20. Other sources use an incorrect reference date of March 21.

Easter Sunday can fall on any date from March 22 to April 25th. The year-to-year sequence is so complicated that it takes 5.7 million years to repeat. Eastern Orthodox churches sometimes celebrate Easter on the same day as the rest of Christendom. However if that date does not follow Passover, then the Orthodox churches delay their Easter - sometimes by over a month. Easter are celebrated on the following dates by the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches:


Ash Wednesday

Easter Sunday

Ascension Day




























When was the date of the first Easter?

Passover was the most important feast of the Jewish calendar, celebrated at the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. (The Equinox typically occurs on March 20, 21 or 22 according to our present calendar.)  The Gospels differ on the date of Jesus' execution:


The Synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke) stated that Jesus' last supper was a Seder - a Passover celebration at the start of 15th Nisan, just after sundown. (Jewish days begin at sundown and continue until the next sundown). Jesus was executed later that day and died about 3 PM.


The gospel of John had the last supper at the beginning of 14th Nisan. Jesus is recorded as having died on the afternoon of 14th Nisan.

Most theologians reject John's timing. They assume that John chose a false date for symbolic reasons. He made Jesus' execution synchronize with the sacrifice of the Pascal lamb in the Temple at Jerusalem. If Jesus were murdered on a Friday, then Passover would have fallen on a Thursday. This happened both in the years 30 and 33 CE.

Many theologians accept an execution date of Friday, 30 April, 7 CE as correct. However, this date does produce some difficulties with the timing of Jesus' ministry. Most theologians reject the inference in the Gospel of John that Jesus taught over a three-year period. An early crucifixion date is compatible with a one-year ministry, as implied in the Synoptic gospels.


The Christian Liturgical Calendar

Until the 4th century CE, Easter and Pentecost were the only two Christian holy days were observed. Easter Sunday was the main day of celebration, formally recognized by the Council of Nicene in 325 CE. Pentecost Sunday was also observed as a less important holy day, 7 weeks/49 days after Easter. Other occasions related to Jesus' execution were gradually added to the church calendar:

·               Lent: This was a period of spiritual preparation for Easter that typically involves fasting, penance and prayer. Various Christian groups originally established it as an interval ranging from a few days to several weeks. It was eventually fixed in the 8th century CE at 40 days. (The number 40 is one of many magical numbers with religious significance in the Bible. 40 days recalls the interval that Jesus, Moses and Elias spent in the desert. Other magical numbers were 3, 7, 12, and 70).  Among Roman Catholics, Lent lasts for six and a half weeks before Easter, excluding Sundays. Among the Eastern Orthodox churches, it is a full eight weeks, because Saturdays and Sundays are not included.

·               Ash Wednesday: This is held on the first day of Lent, a Wednesday. "Wednesday" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon "Wodnes Daeg"; Woden was the Saxon God of war and victory.

·               Holy Week: the week before Easter Sunday:

o  Palm Sunday: This is held on the Sunday before Easter Sunday. It recalls Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem one week before his execution.

o  Holy Monday commemorates Jesus' cleansing of the temple, when he assaulted moneychangers and overturned their tables. Some believe that this triggered his arrest and crucifixion.

o  Holy Tuesday recalls Jesus' description to his disciples on the Mount of Olives of the destruction of Jerusalem

o  Holy Wednesday (once called Spy Wednesday) recalls Judas' decision to betray Jesus in exchange for 30 pieces of silver.

o  Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, Jesus agony in the garden and his arrest. "Maundy" is derived from the Latin "mandatum" (commandment of God in John 13:34-35) For centuries, people in authority have washed the feet of their followers on this day.

o  Good Friday recalls Jesus death on the cross. The origin of the word "good" has been lost. Some claim that it is a corruption of "God" and that the early Christian called this day "God's Friday." Others claim that "good" refers to the blessings of humanity that Christians believe arose as a result of Jesus' execution.

o  Holy Saturday (a.k.a. Easter Eve) is the final day of Holy Week and of Lent.

o  Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus' resurrection. In the early church, converts were baptized into church membership on this day after a lengthy period of instruction. This tradition continues today in some churches.

·               Feast of the Ascension (a.k.a Ascension Day) is a celebration of Jesus' ascension up to heaven. This is described in:

o  the gospel of John as happening immediately after Jesus' resurrection

o  the gospel of Luke at an undefined number of days after the resurrection

o  the book of Acts at 40 days after the resurrection.

The church has accepted the account in Acts; the feast is celebrated on a Thursday, 39 days after Easter Sunday. Although tradition states that it was first celebrated in 68 CE, it did not become formally recognized by the church until the late 3rd century.

·               Pentecost (a.k.a. Whit Sunday) is now celebrated 7 weeks/49 days after Easter Sunday. It recalls the visitation of the Holy Spirit to 120 Christians, both apostles and followers. They spoke in tongues (in foreign languages that they had not previously known) to the assembled crowd. 3,000 were baptized. The day was originally a Jewish festival which was called "Pentecost," because it was observed 50 days after Passover. (The Greek word for fiftieth day is "pentecoste.") This is usually regarded as the date of the birth of the Christian church. The feast was mentioned in a 2nd century book, and was formally recognized in the 3rd century CE.


Easter Traditions

As with almost all holidays that have their roots in Christianity, Easter has been secularized and commercialized. The dichotomous nature of Easter and its symbols, however, is not necessarily a modern fabrication.

Since its conception as a holy celebration in the second century, Easter has had its non-religious side. In fact, Easter was originally a pagan festival.

The ancient Saxons celebrated the return of spring with an uproarious festival commemorating their goddess of offspring and of springtime, Eastre. When the second-century Christian missionaries encountered the tribes of the north with their pagan celebrations, they attempted to convert them to Christianity. They did so, however, in a clandestine manner.

It would have been suicide for the very early Christian converts to celebrate their holy days with observances that did not coincide with celebrations that already existed. To save lives, the missionaries cleverly decided to spread their religious message slowly throughout the populations by allowing them to continue to celebrate pagan feasts, but to do so in a Christian manner.

As it happened, the pagan festival of Eastre occurred at the same time of year as the Christian observance of the Resurrection of Christ. It made sense, therefore, to alter the festival itself, to make it a Christian celebration as converts were slowly won over. The early name, Eastre, was eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter.

The Date of Easter: Prior to A.D. 325, Easter was variously celebrated on different days of the week, including Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In that year, emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea. It issued the Easter Rule that states that Easter shall be celebrated on the first Sunday that occurs after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox, or first day of spring. Therefore, Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday between the dates of March 22 and April 25. Its date is tied to the lunar cycle.

The Cross: The Cross is the symbol of the Crucifixion, as opposed to the Resurrection. However, at the Council of Nicaea, in A.D. 325, Constantine decreed that the Cross was the official symbol of Christianity. The Cross is not only a symbol of Easter, but it is more widely used, especially by the Catholic Church, as a year-round symbol of their faith.

The Easter Bunny: The Easter Bunny is not a modern invention. The symbol originated with the pagan festival of Eastre. The Anglo-Saxons worshipped the goddess, Eastre, through her earthly symbol, the rabbit.

The Germans brought the symbol of the Easter rabbit to America. It was widely ignored by other Christians until shortly after the Civil War. In fact, Easter itself was not widely celebrated in America until after that time.

The Easter Egg: As with the Easter Bunny and the holiday itself, the Easter Egg predates the Christian holiday of Easter. The exchange of eggs in the springtime is a custom that was centuries old when Christians first celebrated Easter.

From the earliest times, the egg was a symbol of rebirth in most cultures. Eggs were often wrapped in gold leaf or, if you were a peasant, colored brightly by boiling them with the leaves or petals of certain flowers.

Today, children hunt colored eggs and place them in Easter baskets along with the modern version of real Easter eggs -- those made of plastic or chocolate candy.

These have been derived primarily from Pagan traditions at Easter time:

Ezekiel 8:16-18: "...behold, at the door of the temple of Jehovah, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of Jehovah, and their faces toward the east; and they were worshipping the sun toward the east. Then he said unto me, hast thou seen (this), O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations that they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have turned again to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in wrath; mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them." (ASV)


2.       Easter Sunday





Easter put everything about Jesus into perspective and tells us what Good Friday was all about. It shows that what really happen on Good Friday was not an execution but a sacrifice, not a defeat but a triumph, not an end but a beginning. It was a beginning of a fuller life; for Jesus did not rise from the dead merely to continue the life he had lead in this earth. He rose to a glorified life of perfect happiness where he put behind him all the suffering, misery and fears that are our own.



Our Faith


“They saw and believed”: This is very much the testimony of the first witnesses, John and Peter and others who saw Jesus risen from the dead, and this is what our Easter faith should depends on. Joy in the risen Christ should pervade the celebration. Do we feel the joy the disciples felt in the presence of their risen Master? Their community was complete again, not with a Jesus doomed to suffer, but with the Lord of the living and the dead.


Theme and Characteristics


The paschal mystery, the date and the resurrection of Christ is the central theme of the Easter cycle, not merely as a historical commemoration but as a here-and-now manifestation of the glorification in the Christian assembly and as a fervent prayer for full realisation of the redemption. Easter celebrated deliverance from the slavery of time, sin and death. It celebrated the deliverance as already having been achieved in Christ and as shared by the Church, the Body of Christ.


Paschal Celebration


Paschal celebration begins at the Grand Vigil, but it continues for fifty days of which Easter Sunday is the first. The day stresses the presence of the risen Jesus among his own, leading us to the fullness of faith. We renew our baptismal promises. It also brings the Holy Triduum  to a close.


The Mass


Easter Sunday is really the continuation of the season inaugurated at the Easter Vigil and flows from it. If Easter Vigil Mass was like an earthquake that sends out shock waves, then the resurrection event reverberates most strongly on Easter Sunday, then throughout the fifty days of the Easter seasons (Paschal Time). Those shock waves reach every Sunday of the earth and every mass on weekdays. Any feeling of anticlimax after the Easter Vigil should be dispelled by the solemnity and festivity of the Easter Sunday Mass.


Baptism and Renewal of Baptismal Promises others


Easter Sunday is an ideal time to celebrate baptism, particularly the baptisms of infants, if adults are baptised at the Vigil. Adult neophytes will return on Sunday morning to share Eucharist with the wider parish community.


Renewal of baptismal promises gives the opportunity of making: God wants to live in us in our full and free commitment.

-         Will I try to overcome the darkness in my relationships with others: my lack of love and caring?

-         Will I try not to be drugged by the easy options and selfish attitudes of an affluent society (Satan’s “empty promises”)?

-         Will I commit myself to God as Father and Creator, to Jesus who is Lord, to the Spirit who gives life, especially in and through the Church, to bring about, where I live, the resurrected world?

For that, may He keep us faithful. Amen.




For some people, Easter morning is the occasion of an infrequent visit to the church and the Eucharist of Easter day is an opportunity to hear the gospel anew. For regular churchgoers, the great vigil had had no place in their devotional background and the service on Easter morning is for them the primary celebration of the major Christian festival. Others will return after the Vigil for another and in their mind a more traditional, Easter service. Some will simply be unable to attend the Vigil and wish to worship on Easter. All need to feel that something important is happening, as indeed it is. The church is celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Living the paschal mystery


The church does not limit her celebration of her Lord’s resurrection to Easter Sunday but continues it until the day when the Lord sends his Spirit. The reason for this unbroken celebration is that Pentecost marks the full impact of salvation on the world, and the outpouring of God’s life upon men.




FIRST READING: Acts 10:34, 37-43.

Peter opened his mouth and said: “You know the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who are chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.


Explanation: These verses are part of the story of the conversion of Cornelius, a Roman army officer. Stationed in Caesarea, Cornelius believed the God of the Jews was the true God, but though a good-living man, he had not become a Jew. Advised by a divine messenger, he sent to Joppa for St Peter, whose antipathy to pagans had bee corrected by a vision seen that same day. Peter came to Caesarea and contrary to his life-long custom, entered the pagan home of Cornelius, who explained to him why he had been asked to come (10:1-33). Peter then speaks:

You know…which was proclaimed: Peter gives a synopsis of Christ’s public life and mission in Palestine, of which Cornelius, a man in a position of authority, must have heard already.

anointed… with the Holy Spirit: a reference to the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus during his baptism by the Baptist in the Jordan.

And…power: proved by his many miracles and by his teaching.

God was with him: In his human nature divine power was given to him. He was God the Son, but in his human nature, as man, he emptied himself of his divine glory, as St Paul tells us (Phil 2:6).

“hanging him on a tree”: a figurative expression for crucifixion (see Dt 21:23).

God raise him…third day: The resurrection of Jesus is attributed to the Father in almost all the texts that refer to it in the New Testament. The verb in Greek is passive “was raised.” St Jerome translated this with the active voice surrexit “he rose.” As the Father and Son are one God, there is no theological difference.

not to all…witnesses: He appeared to the Apostles, disciples and others (see 1 Cor 15: 1-8), during forty days after his resurrection.

and drank with him: Jesus had eaten with the Apostles- not that the risen, glorified body needed food but to convince them of the reality of his risen human body.

to preach to the people: The commission given to the Apostles on Ascension Day.

judge of the living and the dead: Judge of all men. This will be the role of Christ the God-man (see 17:31)

prophets…witness: No prophets are quoted, but in a true sense the whole Old Testament was a preparation, and a prophecy in fact, concerning him who was to come (see 3:19-26)

through his name: The purpose of the Incarnation was to make them not only friends but also sons of God. Where sin had intervened, its remission was necessary and available for all who believed in Christ (see 3:19-26)



Reflection: This passage from Acts has been selected for Easter Sunday not only because the resurrection is mentioned in it, but especially because St Peter in his first discourse to Gentiles makes the resurrection the basic doctrine and the crowning proof of the truth of the Christian faith. As St Paul says: “If Christ has not risen vain is our preaching, vain too is your faith”(1 Cor 15:14). And like Paul, St Peter stresses the truth of the resurrection by citing witnesses, including himself, who had not only seen the risen Jesus but had spoken to him and actually eaten with him. There is no room for doubt but that the Apostles and disciples had thought that the sad events of Good Friday had put an end forever to the mission of love and mercy of their beloved Master. In spite of his previous references to his resurrection, they had completely forgotten it and were convinced that the tomb near Calvary was an end of all their hopes. They had locked themselves into the room of the Last Supper for fear of the Jews. Two of them had set off for home on the Sunday, down-hearted at the Master’s failure; the others were waiting for an opportunity to slip out of the city quietly. But the resurrection changed all this. The unexpected, the unhoped-for happened. Even the most skeptical of them all, doubting Thomas, was eventually convinced of its reality. Had they been hoping for it, or even thinking of it, there might be some reason to suspect it was an hallucination, the result of their “wishful thinking,” but the very opposite was the case. They were hard to convince even when it happened. God intended all this. The basis of our Christian faith was proved beyond doubts. Christ, who had died on the cross on Good Friday, was raised from the dead by his Father on Easter morning. He returned to heaven in the full glory of the divinity that he had hidden while on earth, together with his human body, now also glorified. There (in heaven), as God and man, he pleads for us at the right had of the Father until the day when he who redeemed all people will come to judge them all.


SECOND READING: Colossians 3:1-4

If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.


Explanation: The method of administrating Baptism in the apostolic days was by immersion. Those who heard the story of the gospel and were ready to believe in the one true God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit who had cooperated with man’s redemption and elevation to divine sonship, were immersed in water to be cleansed from their sins and their previous worldliness. Immersion in water symbolised being buried in the tomb with Christ. By immersion, therefore, the new Christian died with Christ to all earthly attachments and desires. He was raised again from the water (the tomb) to be with the risen Christ.

If you have been raised…. Christ: The physical act of immersion and rising again from the baptismal bath was not enough unless the convert meant what he is doing. The Christian life was a new life, a life of unity with Christ. Therefore, the new Christian must:

Set your mind…things above: His thoughts must now be on things of the spirit, the everlasting truths that he just learned. His past evil practices must be forgotten.

where Christ is seated: He must strive to earn heaven where Christ is now on glory, having gone through death and resurrection to make heaven available to us.

not on things that are on earth: The things of earth insofar as they are sinful, or occasions of sin, are now forbidden. Insofar as they are necessary for the sustenance of earthy life they are not forbidden, but they must always be used so that they do not impede the journey to heaven.

you have died…your life…Christ: The Christian has died in baptism to all sinful earthly concerns. He is now living a new life; it is hidden because it is a spiritual life. Externally, in bodily appearance, he has not changed, but since his baptism, he is a new man. He is with God, a brother of Christ and a member of God’s family.

When Christ…appears: Christ lives in the Christian. The Christian lives in Christ and through Christ. Christ is the source of our new life, and the essence of it, by faith and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.

you also will appear…. glory: Christ will appear in glory at the particular and the general judgements. The loyal Christian will appear, will return with Christ from the grave, in the glorified state, which will be his for all eternity.


Reflection: All of us are always looking forward to a happier day that is to come some time. Today, Easter Sunday, St Paul reminds us that we have this happiness within our grasp. St Paul tells us we must “mind the things that are above not the things that are on earth.” We must never let the “things on earth,” the pleasures, the power, the possessions, block or impede us on our upward journey. All we are asked to do is to try to stay in God’s grace, and do our daily chores whatever they be, as well and as diligently as we can. We are aided by God’s grace and God wants us in heaven. He has an Easter resurrection planned for us.


GOSPEL: John 20:1-9

On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them. “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter ran out with the other disciples, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciples outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.


Explanation: The accounts of Christ resurrection on Easter morning as given by the four Evangelists vary in details but agree on the essential points. Some women, the leader among them being Mary Magdalene, came to the tomb early on Sunday morning to anoint the dead body with spices, in order to help preserve it. This anointing had been done hastily on the Friday because of the Sabbath that had begun at sundown. The tomb was found pen and empty. The first thought of the women was that somebody had stolen the corpse. This shows how far resurrection was from their minds. They went in haste to tell the disciples. Peter and John ran to the tomb. Later that day Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene, to ten of the Apostles, to Peter separately (according to St Paul, 1 Cor 15:5), to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13); and, later on, he appeared often to the Apostles and disciples in Galilee, for a period of days.

first day of the week: The Sabbath was the last day of the Jewish week, so the first day corresponds to what is now called Sunday.

Mary Magdalene: John mentions only Magdalene by name but the “ we don’t know” in verse 2 implies there were others with her.

stone had been moved away: The tomb was raised above the ground and its entrance was closed by rolling a large stone, cut for the purpose, across the entrance (see Mk 16:3)


They have taken the Lord… This is Magdalene’s only possible explanation of the absence of the body.

Peter and the other disciple: Peter and John ran to the tomb. When they found the winding sheet and the cloth that covered the head lying there, they realise that the body had been stolen or taken away: why should the linen covering have been removed?

he saw and believed: That Peter had been the first to believe and then John, seems to be the meaning here, not that John believed in contrast to Peter.

as yet they did not understand: Until this moment they had not understand the Scriptures that had foretold his resurrection. In fact neither had they believed Christ’s own prophecies of his resurrection – it seemed to be something that could not happen.


Reflection: The accounts of the resurrection of Christ differ in many details in the different writings of the New Testament, but the stress on the fact of the resurrection was the basis of the new Christian Faith. Had it not happened, Christianity would have been stillborn. It would soon have disappeared from Jerusalem and the world. Peter and his companions would have returned to their fishing nets and boats on Lake Genesareth and Christ, the good and kind man who had helped so many, would have been forgotten in half a generation. But Christ was no mere man of kindly acts and words of wisdom. He was the Messiah promised for centuries. He was the Suffering Servant foretold by Isaiah, whose perfect obedience to his Father had led him to the cross and the grave. But above all, he was the Son of God who had emptied himself (St Paul) of his divine glory in order to be the perfect human servant of the Father, and who was now raised by the Father with his divine glory restored, and his glorified resurrected body sharing in that glory. This was the divine plan of God for mankind, through Christ, and because of Christ’s (the new Adam’s) perfect obedience, all mankind would be made worthy of divine sonship, and worthy of one day rising like Christ from the grave in glorified bodies. Our personal Easter morning is not far away from even the youngest among us. We have a few Calvaries to climb, perhaps, in the meantime but what are they when we see out glorious Easter on the horizon?


4.       Summary


Easter requires more of us than the repetition of the paschal mystery. We are being challenged to move beyond an intellectual witnessing and live the resurrection life daily. It is a slow maturing process of dying and rising with Jesus Christ. Yet there is a prior reality to being witness of the risen Lord. We must encounter him in our own lives. How would we describe our daily lives? Do we grasp the trophies and ideologies of this world that promises security and peace? Do we place our ultimate concern only in the rewards of the world? Do we hold back and play safe when it comes to our relationship with the Father? As long as we continue to love with heart set on the things above, we will be Christ’s witnesses in Spirit and in Truth!


References used in this presentation:

1.       "Easter: The Pagan Origins of Common Easter Traditions," at: http://www.multiline.com.au/~gregm/easter.html

2.       A. J. Dager, "Facts and Fallacies of the Resurrection," Page 5. Cited in: R.K. Tardo, "Rabbits, Eggs and Other Easter Errors," at: http://syscdj1.gmu.edu/sermons/base/EASTER.TXT

3.       Arnold Gordon, untitled essay at: http://www.misslink.net/zephyr/bible/bibleah.htm This essay is no longer available online.

4.       Miller-Robert - Breaking Bread, Cycle B. Pg 91, 92

5.       Coughlan-Purden – Commentary on the Sunday Lectionary, Cycle B. Pg 100

6.       Leonel L Mitchell – Lent, Holy Week, Easter and the Great Fifty Days. Pg 115

7.       Kevin O’Sullivan – The Sunday Readings, Cycle B. Pg 161- 166

8.        The Catholic Encyclopedia – Vol Easter. Pg 8,9