The Word for Easter Sunday
Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Colossians 3:1-4, OR 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
If you were a person who only attended Mass on Easter Sunday, your exposure to the whole Story of Salvation would be limited to just these four passages used every Easter Sunday. If someone were to attend Mass every week, they would find themselves exposed to over 600 different passages from Scripture. If they were to do this for only one year they would get at least 200 different passages. My point is, our beloved "Easter Catholics" are only getting a very small part of the story.... yes, a very important part, but it's like eating only one hors d'oeuvre at a banquet... it gives you a foretaste of the great food to come, but could hardly be considered nutritious or filling.
Unpacking the readings for this Sunday, like we do every week in the RCIA, gives me the same problem. I can't really give you a sense of the importance of these readings without grounding them in the stories that precede them. This beautiful Gospel from John about how the tomb was found empty means nothing if not for our first reading from Acts of the Apostles, where Peter is explaining to Cornelius (a Roman Centurion) who this Jesus fellow is. But even that is not enough context to substantiate the wonder that is Easter. At the very least, you need to allow yourself the opportunity... the retreat... the blessing of all Holy Week has to offer.
The Liturgies of Holy Week, the Sacred Triduum, are like a full three course meal. The first course, Holy Thursday and the Mass of the Lord's Supper. with the story of the Passover from Exodus, Paul's story of the institution of the Eucharist, and John's glorious Gospel where Jesus washes the feet of his Apostles. Our second course, Good Friday, where the prophet Isaiah tells us both the glory and the tragedy that faces God's servant, where Paul extols to the Romans how Jesus was a high priest who also understood weakness, and John's deeply moving story of Jesus' passion and death. Then comes our main course... the Easter Vigil, where in darkness we re-tell the tail of our becoming a people of God, which by the time we're through with all these readings our Gospel of the Resurrection now has enough context to reveal it's radiance. Easter Sunday, if you so wish, then becomes a nice aperitif, a delightful pallet cleanser for the amazing stories yet to come during the entire season of Easter.
So for this Easter, don't come just for one hors d'oeuvre on Easter Sunday, but come to the Feast that is Holy Week, and see why we believe when we find the tomb is empty.
Have a blessed Easter!