Easter Sunday (A) Part II
April 09, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.


Which Way to the Tomb?
The Lord is truly risen, alleluia! (Entrance Antiphon)  With this joyful refrain, Christians announce their belief: Christ indeed from death is risen. (Sequence)  And ever since the empty tomb was discovered that first Easter morn, the word echoes forth: God raised [Jesus] on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people, but to those who were chosen by God as witnesses (I).  Each witness -- Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter, and the other disciple. . .whom Jesus loved (G) -- all giving their testimony from a different perspective.  Each one coming to the empty tomb by a different route.
Beginning with Mary.  She comes by way of love.  Weeping for her crucified savior.  While others remained behind locked doors, she comes to the tomb early on the first day of the week (G).  And she comes with a courage no fear could extinguish.

Yes, she did not understand what she saw at first.  She thought the stone missing from the tomb meant someone had taken the Lord’s body.  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple (G).  Love, nevertheless, prompted her visit.  And love made her run, and insist they come and see too.  So doors flew open.  Peter and the other disciple start running:  One faster than the other.

Thus Peter comes to the tomb by a different way -- the way of hope, hope of forgiveness.  For the one who bragged he would die for Jesus has unfinished business with the Master.  If only he could set things right for denying the Lord three times.
It was a hope, however, that would be delayed.  For neither did he understand the scripture, that [Jesus] must rise from the dead. (G)  But he would understand some days later.  He would be forgiven by the shores of Tiberias, his hope realized.  And one day he would preach a sermon so all peoples might know that everyone who believes in [Jesus] receives forgiveness of sins through his name (I).
But now it’s the other disciple’s turn.  He enters the tomb after Peter.  And he sees what Peter saw: just the linen wrappings lying there (G).  But this time, there is understanding for he saw and believed (G).  See, this disciple comes to the tomb by way of faith.  After all, he did not deny Jesus like Peter did.  No, he stood by the cross.  And he writes of these events for one purpose: that we too may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing [we] may have life in his name (Jn. 20:31).
 Faith, hope, and love: three ways by which to come this morning to celebrate the festival. (II).  The Beloved Disciple’s faith, Peter’s hope, and Mary’s love, all enable us to see the empty tomb, hear the witness, and join the refrain: The Lord is risen, alleluia!  Faith, hope, and love: three qualities of the Christian soul.
That’s why on Easter Christians renew their baptismal promises.  We who live in Christ through baptism stand up and witness our faith, our hope, and our love — testifying that Jesus lives in us.  This rite is neither a formality, nor a custom, nor least of all, an Easter “duty.”  Rather, it’s a claim on our life.  The words we’re about to repeat --  “I do reject [sin, and Satan, all his empty promises];  “I do believe” [in the Christian Creed] – these words must come from hearts where faith, hope, and love reside.  Else they are hypocrisy, unworthy of those who receive this day the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (II) in the Holy Eucharist.
But let's be honest.  Our faith might well  be weakened, our hope diminished, and our love, cooled –  perhaps never more so in these days when faith in political, ecclesiastical, financial and judicial institutions has been shaken.  Our hope may well be clouded by seemingly intractable problems facing us, whether the latest mass shooting or dire prediction about the climate disaster that awaits us.  Or perhaps love has grown tepid in the face of war abroad and divisions at home.  Yes, this Easter Sunday could leave us still waiting for the stone to be removed from the tomb.  So we can be forgiven if we don't all come with undoubted faith, unwavering hope and fervent love as we wonder whether God has somehow left us to our own lamentable devices  But if you haven’t exactly run to celebrate this Easter, and could only manage a reluctant shuffle, you still belong, for the grace of God has still, somehow, brought us here.
And when these rites are complete, like Mary, Peter, and the other disciple, we too will remain in our homes (cf. G; longer version) – quite possibly renewed, but also challenged.  Challenged to believe, to hope, and to love in ways ever more like those three witnesses who first came to the empty tomb: Who ate and drank with [Jesus] as we do this morning, after he rose from the dead (G).  Who lives and reigns, forever and ever.  Amen.

Renewal of Baptismal Promises

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that renewed through word and sacrament, we may radiate the light of Christ, be strong in faith, confident in hope, and abounding with love for God and neighbor.

For all the newly baptized: that they may faithfully follow Jesus, grow in their love for God, and keep the light of Christ burning brightly in their lives.

For all the human family: that Christ’s victory over death may bring hope and a new beginning to all who suffer from war and violence, are burdened by poverty, confronted by prejudice, or live in fear.

For all who find themselves confused, doubting their faith, or walking in darkness: that they may experience the Risen Lord who brings light and hope to hearts.

For all who have fled homes because of violence, fear, or natural disasters: that God will guide them to safety, give them hope, and touch the hearts of many to welcome and support them.

For all who are burdened by sickness, disease, or chronic illness: that the healing Spirit of the risen Christ may bring light and wholeness to them.

For greater stewardship of God’s creation: that we may work to use earth’s resources prudently and preserve them for the good of future generations.

For nations in turmoil: that God will break the cycles of violence and discord, end acts of revenge, protect the innocent, and raise leaders who will establish peace and justice in areas of conflict.

For peace: that the Risen Lord will give each of us peace of mind and heart, relief from stress and pressure, and renew our spirits so that we may live life fully each day.

God of undying life,
by your mighty hand
you raised up Jesus from the grave
and appointed him judge of the living and the dead.
Bestow upon those baptised into his death
the power flowing from his resurrection,
that we may proclaim near and far
the pardon and peace you give us.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, firstborn from the dead,
who lives with you now and always in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Chant

Offertory Anthem (William Billings)
The Lord is ris'n indeed,
Now is Christ risen from the dead,
and become the first fruits of them that slept.
And did He rise?
Hear, O ye nations, hear it, O ye dead.
He rose, He burst the bars of death,
He burst the bars of death and triumph'd o'er the grave.
Then I rose,
then first humanity triumphant passed the crystal ports of light,
and seiz'd eternal youth.
Man, all immortal hail, hail,
Heaven, all lavish of strange gifts to man,
Thine's all the glory, man's the boundless bliss.
Communion Antiphon
Closing Hymn (Charles Wesley)
Love's redeeming work is done,
fought the fight, the battle won.
Lo, our Sun's eclipse is o'er!
Lo, he sets in blood no more!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal!
Christ has burst the gates of hell;
death in vain forbids him rise;
Christ has opened paradise. 

Lives again our victorious King;
where, O death, is now thy sting?
Dying once, he all doth save;
where thy victory, O grave?

Soar we now where Christ has led,
following out exalted Head;
made like him, like him we rise,
ours the cross, the grave, the skies.

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven!
Praise to thee by both be given:
thee we greet triumphant now;
hail, the Resurrection thou!