Glory to God in the highest! Jesus, the Son of God, the Christ, has been raised. Here is how it has been told in Luke 24:1-12.
At daybreak on the first day of the week
the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus
took the spices they had prepared
and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;
but when they entered,
they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were puzzling over this, behold,
two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.
They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.
They said to them,
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here, but he has been raised.
Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee,
that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners
and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”
And they remembered his words.
Then they returned from the tomb
and announced all these things to the eleven
and to all the others.
The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James;
the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles,
but their story seemed like nonsense
and they did not believe them.
But Peter got up and ran to the tomb,
bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone;
then he went home amazed at what had happened.
This version of Christ’s rising from the dead is from Saturday night’s Easter Vigil service, because I find it the most beautiful and inspiring reading.
My two favorite Masses of the year are the Midnight Mass and the Easter Vigil Mass. Both are incredibly moving, with the pomp and ceremony. In particular, the Easter Vigil is full of drama, usually beginning in the dark with everyone carrying a lighted candle. There are seven first readings with their responsorial psalms. Then there’s the Epistle, with its responsorial psalm. And then the Gospel, which announces the discovery that Our Lord has risen from the dead. The lights go on!
Also during the Easter Vigil, the new Pascal candle is commemorated and lighted. And the most stirring Gloria of the year is sung.
That’s been my experience, anyway. I’m sure each parish celebrates the Easter Vigil a little differently in some way. But the basics remain the same. It is a celebration of the discovery that Jesus is no longer dead but has been raised and is no longer in the tomb. And the dawning of the apostles at its meaning and their amazement at its good news. We get to share all of this awesome experience in the Easter Vigil. It’s almost like being there with Mary Magdalene and the apostles.
After the sadness and tears of Friday over the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross, today we are overjoyed. And the Epistle of Paul to the Romans (6:3-11) reminds us that this wasn’t just the rising of Jesus from the dead, but it is the dawning of a reality for each of us. For Paul says,”if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.” So Jesus has cleared the way for us to resurrection, also.
While Jesus lived among us, he taught us how to live just lives, loving God and our neighbors to the fullest. Dying on the cross and rising from the dead, he made way for our following him into heaven, where that love reaches its glorious height. Glory to God in the highest!
He has been raised. Happy Easter.