Sunday Readings in Brief Easter 2021
Easter Sunday: Acts 10:34a. 37-43; Ps 118; 2 Cor 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-19
Understanding Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday
Dear friends, Last night we celebrated the most important night of our Christian Faith. It is the night in which the fate of the world was changed for good. By resurrecting from the dead, Jesus opened the doors of eternal life to all who will be willing to enter. Those who lived under oppression by the systems got their consolation. Now we have a choice in our disposition, we can either choose Christ and hope for live everlasting or reject him and be sure of everlasting agony.
During the Vigil Mass, we are taken through the History of our salvation rest we forget. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses commanded the Israelites to narrate the events of Passover to their children in all generations. This is what we are all supposed to do to our children. Faith must be planted in the young lives before the world highjacks their teenage minds and curiosity.
The vigil readings take us through the history of salvation from the very first day of creation. We can say that God created us to save us. However, God did not plan that man and woman should go astray after he had created them so that he can save them. Nevertheless, he acted to save them when they disobeyed and sinned against him. Jesus becomes the culmination of that plan of God to save his people. He becomes the permanent mark of salvation available to all who wish.
The reading from Genesis 1 relates how God created everything in amazing order and crowned all his creation with the making of man and woman. God wanted to share the abundance of his love with man and woman and so he prepared the place for them. Psalm 104 recounts the marvelous of God’s creation.
Genesis 22 recounts the story of how God tested the faith of Abraham. After restoring the hope of posterity to Abraham, God asked him to sacrifice the very gift of prosperity; he had given him, his son Isaac. Many of us would have broken the relationship with God and decide not to let go of what was in our hands. We would say better one bird in the hand than 100 in the air. Abraham must have thought that the same God who had blessed him with a son at his old age would be able to give him even more. Therefore, he did not hold back his son from God. Later God would return the favour by giving us his only son to die for us. Ps 16 is a song of confidence in God’s providence. We are called to trust in the plan of God for us without any reservations.
The reading from Exodus 14 recounts the pain that the people of Israel went through as they crossed the Red Sea. They were afraid that God had brought them from Egypt so that they would perish at the shore of the sea. God never plans disaster for his people but rather uses the opportunity of a looming disaster to manifest his glory. That day, the people of Israel saw the power of God acting in their favor. Then the people sang the song of praise to God for his wonderful deeds. Let us not even for one-second think that God has abandoned us to suffer alone. God is always on our side in the face of evil.
Isaiah 54 reminds us that sometimes God may seem not concerned about our predicaments but he is always watching and will never let us be overwhelmed. Even though our pain is wrought by our own bad choices, God does not withdraw his mercy and compassion from us. He always wants to rebuild us a new if we give him a chance. As we read in Ps 30, if we trust in God, we will always have the final lough. Our enemies will not prevail over us.
Isaiah 55 tells us that in the Lord’s house there is an abundance of all we need. If we listen to God’s words, we will not be confounded because he will make things bearable for us. However, we are urged to take the advantage of the moment while it is available. Let us take the courage to act while there is something to be salvaged.
Prophet Baruch is explaining to the people the source of their sufferings in captivity. Their lack of prudence and disobedience to God’s commandment make us fall out of his protection and hence are taken captives by evil. Prudence and virtue are the secrets to prosperity and long life. Psalm 19 tells us that God’s commandment is immaculate and brilliant. It can only bring us good do not be cheated that it is out of fashion to have faith.
From the Book of Ezekiel, we are told that the suffering of the Israelites in exile was because of their sins. They had defiled the Holy Name of the Lord by disobeying his commandments. However, for the sake of his Holy Name, God says that he will save them from the Gentiles and not for their own merits. The salvation we have is not because we have earned it but rather because God is merciful and loves us.
Paul, in the letter to the Romans reminds us of the real meaning of the death and resurrection of Christ. That in baptism we die in our sins and resurrect with him to a new life. Psalm 118 sings of the everlasting mercy and goodness of the Lord. Mercifulness and Goodness are part of God’s nature and he cannot act against his nature.
The Gospel relates the incredible news of the resurrection. He who was confirmed dead and his tomb heavily guarded has defied death and risen as he had promised. God always keeps his promise. He raised his son from the dead so that we too can resurrect with him. Let us not seek the risen Lord among the dead as the women and Peter did. Jesus is alive with us and he wants to share his new life with us.
It is always amazing to me that when Jesus had risen he did not go to the Centre of the City in Jerusalem to show himself to those who had killed him like many of us would do. He showed himself to the few whom he entrusted to tell the story of his resurrection. I guess that this is what Jesus wished, that his resurrection not become another “Breaking News” and be subjected to misinterpretation and misrepresentation by reporters. He wanted his resurrection, be announced and preached by the people who really believed and hoped in him. Peter and other disciples used a lot of energy to spread the Good News of the risen Christ. Two millennia afterward the Church is still at pains trying to spread the same message of salvation.
Paul urges us to act like people who have been raised with Christ and not like fakes. Let us not act as though we never knew who Jesus was because this amounts to betrayal.
Once again, the Gospel presents us with the scenario of the morning of the resurrection. Mary Magdalene, a woman, becomes the first bearer of the great news of the resurrection. She finds the tomb open and that the body of Jesus was missing. Peter and the other disciple not believing them, run to the tomb to confirm and found things the way the women had reported. It had not dawned on them that Jesus had told them he would resurrect.
My dear friend, the mystery of our salvation whose climax we reach today brings a lot of joy to us. The liturgy of the Church provides us with this incredible season to relive these moments with renewed spirit and motivation to continue to believe, to hope, and to love knowing that our fate is confirmed if we remain faithful to our calling.
Have a blessed Easter.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD