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Encounter in the Tomb

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By Marc Massery (Apr 20, 2019)
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Sunday, April 21, 2019, Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of the Lord
•Acts 10:34A, 37-43
•Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
•Col 3:1-4
•Jn 20:1-9

In the Gospel reading for this Easter Sunday, after hearing from Mary of Magdala that the Lord's Body is missing, Peter and John race to the tomb. When they enter, they discover His burial clothes laid in a particular way and realize that this was not the work of a grave robber. This was something different. As soon as John enters the tomb, Scripture says, "[H]e saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead" (Jn 20:8).

In other words, John and Peter had been hearing the Scriptures prophesying Christ's death and Resurrection all their lives. From the Psalms to the book of Isaiah, from the story of Jonah and the whale to Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, the Scriptures predict that the Messiah would suffer, die, and then rise from the dead. Indeed, Christ Himself told His Apostles several times — quite clearly — that He would die and then rise again.

Still, they did not understand. No Scripture, no words of Jesus convinced them. They needed something else. They needed to encounter the empty tomb.

We may wonder at their disbelief. But we're not much different. We can talk about the death and Resurrection of Christ all we want. But unless we see an empty tomb — unless we have an encounter with Jesus and His Resurrection — we will not fully believe. And unless we fully believe in Christ's Resurrection, we will not be able to live the life God calls us to live.

Consider the Apostles before they came to understalnd the meaning of the Resurrection. They fell into some serious sin. For example, in his disbelief, Peter denied Christ three times, and all the other Apostles, except John, abandoned Him.

However, after the Apostles saw the empty tomb, after they encountered the Risen Christ, everything changed. Their abandonment of Christ did not end up defining their relationship with Him. Instead, their belief in His Resurrection gave them the impetus to tell the whole world about their love for Him on account of His victory over sin and death.

Though we won't encounter Christ in the same way as the Apostles, when we do encounter Him, however we encounter Him, our lives will never be the same. And the words we have been hearing Him tell us our whole lives, without fully believing or understanding, will finally all start to make sense.

For those yet to encounter Him, we must pray as St. Faustina did, "O my God, how I pity those people who do not believe in eternal life; how I pray for them that a ray of mercy would envelop them too, and that God would clasp them to His fatherly bosom" (780).

Indeed, that's what the Resurrection is all about. The way, the truth, and the life rising from the tomb and pouring out upon us the unfathomable mercy of God, leading us to that final encounter, Heaven, where we'll rest forever in the Father's loving arms.

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