The Silence of Empty Tomb: An Invitation to seek your own Resurrection Story

April 12, 2020 – Easter Sunday

Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041220.cfm)

Homily

The Lord is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The word Alleluia is a Hebrew word that expresses rejoicing

It is just right for us now to be joyful because the Lord is risen. Jesus is alive and did not abandon us at all. We might have felt fear and haunted by the anxiety brought by the Covid-19, but God remains truly faithful. He is with us and present among us. 

Jesus’ resurrection is God’s ultimate declaration of God’s justice and mercy, for those who are oppressed, those who are in pain, for those who suffered and died.

These past few days, we have been reflecting on the passion, suffering and death of our Lord. The Easter triduum that started on Holy Thursday prepared us to enter into the great suffering of Jesus on Good Friday. On that day, we were deeply touched as we remember the death of Jesus as God’s expression of love for us. 

By Black Saturday, of which the Great Silence has been observed, we were invited also to continue to reflect on this great mystery of love. Last night, we anticipate the resurrection of the Lord. Today, on this Easter morn, Mary of Magdala brought the news of the empty tomb to Peter and to the beloved disciple. 

It would be good for us then to look deeper on how these three received the resurrection of Jesus.

Mary of Magdala was perhaps in great sadness as she came to the tomb of Jesus on that early morning. Perhaps, Mary was not able to sleep thinking that his master died and left her. What did she expect then when she went to the tomb, in that place of sorrow and pain? The Gospel tells us that Mary did not actually see the inner part of the tomb, but, she was sure that the Lord was not there. Mary brought this news to Peter and the beloved disciple that the Lord was taken away – Mary actually thought that Jesus’ body was taken away from them.

The beloved disciple upon hearing the news ran faster than Peter and arrived first. Yet, he did not enter until Peter arrived. He just bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat.

When Peter arrived at the tomb, he entered and saw also the linen cloths lying flat. How will he explain this empty tomb now to the other disciples? He who denied the Lord three times might have been really confused and worried.

There was no word being uttered as they saw the empty tomb and the linen cloths. There was only silence. And silence from the empty tomb. They were perhaps confused of that event. But what was interesting was the napkin that had been rolled up in its place. That napkin was used to wrap the head of Jesus.

But when the beloved disciple entered also in the tomb, he saw and believed!

Yes, the beloved disciple who was dear to Jesus saw the signs, the empty tomb, the folded linens and napkin. Those were the signs that indeed the Lord was risen. He is alive. However, to these three, they did not yet fully understand what had happened.

This event triggered something in them and that is to seek their “own resurrection story.” Jesus did not appear to them immediately. Jesus allowed them to have doubts and to believe in him despite their own confusions and anxieties. Jesus permitted them to have a glimpse of his resurrection – a glimpse of the Easter joy.

This is now the invitation for us– that is to recognize our own resurrection story with the Lord.

We might find it difficult to find our own resurrection story because like Mary of Magdala and Peter, our hearts might still be clouded with despair and anxieties. Covid-19 has not yet left us until now despite the many weeks and even months for others of quarantine and lockdown. We have terribly missed by now the company of our friends and colleagues. Everyday the infection is rising and deaths are adding too.

However, let us look again of that beloved disciple who was personally close to Jesus. It was him who saw and believed! 

But take note of this, what the beloved disciple saw was beyond “physical.” He did not see Jesus rising. He did not witness that. What he only saw and witnessed was the silence of the empty tomb. And beyond that, the beloved disciple felt and realized that something glorious happened. Seeing that, he believed that God conquered death. God has taken away sadness and fear. Jesus is here and he is alive. This is what he believed.

Therefore, let us come closer to Jesus because each one of us is dear to him too. In that way, we will be able to truly believe that the Lord has risen and has brought hope to all of us. This will help us to recognize the times where God has let us experience our own resurrection – in those times where we found ourselves in hopeless situation, yet we were given hope; in those times where we thought we were not valued, yet we were loved; in those times where we felt that we were abandoned, yet, after all we realized that we have friends and family members who treasured us.

Recognizing our own resurrection stories will make us more open to God’s invitation to believe in the joyful resurrection of Jesus where God dared to be at the side of the oppressed and the suffering people.

Let our faces now, be overwhelmed with our smiles and let it be translated into action by doing good things to others, by being more compassionate to your neighbor, by being considerate to those who are most in need, by being friendly and showing concern to people whom you will meet despite the “physical distancing.” Hinaut pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR

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