Happy Easter to everyone! And please accept my thanks—all of you who in any way made the celebration of Holy Week and Easter possible, for a lot goes into its proper observance. And thank you all for being here to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord from the death of the Cross.
“Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back.... and they were amazed.”
Both Gospels, that of the Easter Vigil, and that of Sunday morning, call to mind a familiar symbol of the Easter celebration, the empty tomb. The symbolism is, of course, very powerful. One can envision a huge rock being blasted out of the mouth of the sepulcher with explosive force—perhaps the same force which seared the three-dimensional negative image inside our Lord’s burial shroud, which seems to be the one preserved today in Turin.
But something missing is not adequate evidence for most people. The missing body of Jesus is indeed to be accounted for by His resurrection. But the attempt by the chief priests to bribe the guards at the tomb to say “His disciples came by night and stole Him while we were sleeping” provides a plausible explanation for those who refuse to believe in our Lord’s divinity and resurrection.
Really, what we must consider today is the evidence that mounted up after the holy women came to anoint Jesus’ body and found the tomb to be empty. The Gospels for the coming week will speak to some of these events in detail, so do try to be here for Mass to hear them liturgically—or read them at home if you cannot.
We will hear it related that Mary Magdalene remained at the tomb, and Jesus returned—somehow changed, for she did not recognize Him at first, and thought He was the gardener—until He directly addressed her by her name, and she knew immediately that He was “Rabboni—the Master.”
Likewise we will hear that two disciples encountered Him on the way to the nearby city of Emmaus—and they, too, were unable to recognize Him until they stopped at an inn and He broke bread with Him.
We will read that on the very night of the resurrection, late on Easter Sunday, our Lord appeared in the room of the Last Supper, where the Apostles were hiding in fear of the Jews, and gave them the power to forgive sins as part of their priestly ministry. And that he appeared the following week when the Apostle Thomas was there, and allowed him to physically touch His wounds in order to dispel all doubt as to the physical resurrection of Jesus.
On several occasions, we will learn, our Lord came and ate food with the Apostles, further demonstrating His physical reality. After the journey to Emmaus, He returned to the Upper Room to eat fish and honey from a comb, and to explain how His death and resurrection was in fulfillment of all the writings of Moses and the Prophets. We will read that He returned with them to Galilee (in the north, some seventy miles from Jerusalem), where, on the coast of the Sea, He cooked fish and baked bread for them, and enabled them to make a miraculous catch of a hundred and fifty-three fish.
We will read also that in Galilee, He gave them the command to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.” “Those who believe and are baptized will be saved; those who do not believe will be condemned.”
Of course the evidence of our Lord’s resurrection will go on after Easter is long over. Saint Paul will mention it in his Epistle to the Corinthians, citing the testimony of over five hundred people who saw our Lord. Liturgically, we will celebrate His Ascension into heaven, and the descent of the Holy Ghost whom He promised at Pentecost.
But the evidence of our Lord’s resurrection from the dead did stop with Pentecost. The evidence continued in the missionary labors of the Apostles—simple men who set out to bring the good news to the known world, even at the cost of their lives, which they all gave for the Gospel, except for Saint John who was nearly boiled in oil and who spent many years in exile for the Faith. The evidence continued as well in all of those people who suffered persecution for believing the teachings of Jesus Christ, at the hands of the Jews and the Romans at first—and at the hands of other persecutors over the ages, indeed, even in this very day.
The evidence continues in all of those holy men and women who have given their lives for Christ—not only as martyrs, but as holy men and women, priests, teachers, missionaries, and all who care for the sick and the poor for the love of Jesus Christ.
Finally, we ourselves, ought to see a place where we belong in all of this. We have “believed and been baptized” and we “observe all that our Lord has commanded” because the Faith had been handed down to us by these holy forbears. What we have received, we must first of all preserve, subtracting nothing true and adding nothing false to what has come down to us from our Lord Jesus Christ. We must keep the “sound doctrine,” as Saint Paul warns us, not “having itching ears” and finding “teachers according to our lusts ... turning away from the truth, and turning aside to fables.” We must know and guard the Faith as though it were a precious jewel wrapped in silk.
While on earth our Lord taught us what we must believe about God and His angels and saints; how we must behave towards one another and towards Him; and how He expects to be worshipped in the renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross at Holy Mass. We must do these things for our salvation, to be sure. But just as we have received them, we are obligated to give good example, and to pass them on unchanged to those who come after us.
This is the day of our Lord’s resurrection, a day of rejoicing and gladness for Christ has conquered sin and death for all mankind; a day of truth and righteousness for all of us who keep His holy Faith in its purity; a day of prayer and entreaty for those who must preserve the tradition of the Faith in the future, until our Lord comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
 Gospel: Mark xvi: 1-7.
 Matthew xxviii: 1-7; Mark xvi: 1-7.
 Matthew xxviii: 13.
 Thursday, John xx:11-18.
 Monday, Luke xxiv: 13-35.
 Low Sunday, John xx: 19-31.
 Tuesday, Luke xxiv: 36-47.
 Wednesday, John xxi: 1-14. As pointed out by Pamela Lee, 153 is the number of Hail Marys in a fifteen decade Rosary!
 Friday, Matthew xxviii: 16-20.
 Ascension Thursday, Mark xvi: 14-20.
 1 Corinthians xv: 1-15.
 2 Timothy iv: 1-8.