Tuesday in the Last Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1

He Is Not Here, for He Has Risen

This is what the angels announced on the morning of the first day of the new world.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ has changed everything.  The story of the world had been a tragedy; now it becomes a comedy, a divine comedy with the most wonderful ending of all.  Sinful man could be saved from the worldly mess he had made.  He now could become a citizen of the celestial city in which a righteous King reigned.  And he himself was changed as well from sinner to saint, a priest called to offer up spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to his Lord.  Though he was born in the mire and muck of this world, he was now reborn a citizen of heaven, just waiting for his graduation.  Yes, the Christian life is a comedy.

And how is this?  What turned the tragedy into a comedy?  The resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We seem to spend most of our time with his passion, and certainly that is important.  But his passion means nothing if he does not rise from the dead.  The Apostle Paul would have us understand that everything rides on his resurrection, for “if in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19).  The passion does not open heaven’s gate; the resurrection does.  If Christ is still in the grave, then we shall rot in ours and our souls will die with us.  For it is not only the resurrection of our bodies but the immortality of our souls as well which depend on this most important event in world history, the centerpiece of the Christian faith.

The women who were at the cross went to anoint the body early in the morning on the first day of the week, Sunday, the third day in which Jesus lay in the grave.  The angels appear in dazzling white apparel and inform them of the wonderful news while reminding them that Jesus had said as much.  They even invite them to look inside the tomb.  Then they tell them to go tell the disciples what they have seen.  Mark’s Gospel adds the wonderful directive that they were to especially inform Peter.  Remember that Mark was Peter’s assistant, implying that much of Mark’s Gospel is probably Peter’s Gospel.  Perhaps Peter wanted us to know that if Christ could forgive him of his treachery, he can forgive us of ours.

Those immortal words, “He is not here; he has risen,” mean that our lives will end happily ever after.  And do remember, it’s not a generic story in which “love conquers hate,” but a specific story of a specific Conqueror who saves a specific people from certain death.  A comedy indeed!

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