What is the meaning of the resurrection and how do we live out our lives with this truth? Today we face the story of the women finding the empty tomb, of being told of his resurrection and their rush to spread the good news. In the beginning, the women were not believed. They were brushed aside until the empty tomb was seen by others. But soon the news spread and the proof was undeniable. Alleluia! Christ is risen!
What does the resurrection mean to us? And how do we carry that truth throughout the entire liturgical season and our lives?
John 20: 11-18: “Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. She saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord.'”
The cross, once a symbol of death and torture, transformed into a symbol of something else entirely: the love of God and His sacrifice for us. I can imagine the shock of the women who discovered Jesus’ empty tomb, as well as the joy of Mary Magdalene as she realized the man standing beside her was Jesus himself. That joy radiates throughout the Church and it is our duty as its people to spread that joy throughout the world. To be vocal about this joy requires us to live our lives with an understanding that we are loved deeply and forgiven mercifully.
From the Guadete et Exsultate by Pope Frances: “God asks everything of us, yet he also gives everything to us. He does not want to enter our lives to cripple or diminish them, but to bring them to fulfillment. Discernment, then, is not a solipsistic self-analysis or a form of egotistical introspection, but an authentic process of leaving ourselves behind in order to approach the mystery of God, who helps us to carry out the mission to which he has called us, for the good of our brothers and sisters.”
Once Jesus rose, he breathed the Holy Spirit into his disciples, giving them the power to forgive the sins of others. That power of forgiveness and this moment in scripture is profound. That was one of the first acts that Jesus did when he presented himself as resurrected. It is a gift he gives us, to be able to run to confession and be forgiven over and over again in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The resurrection to me means pure, sacrificial love and forgiveness. It means indescribable happiness and a call to never live the same. On this Easter, may we remember the emotions of this day and the power of Jesus’ actions. May we remember that we are deeply loved and mercifully forgiven.