Welcome to the latest email recipients
of "First Impressions," the parishioners of St. John the
Evangelist/St. Joachim parish in Beacon, NY and Our Lady of Lourdes
parish in West Islip, Long Island.
Readers of Mark’s gospel will recognize
the women named in his Easter narrative –"Mary Magdalene, Mary the
mother of James, and Salome." Mark had previously mentioned them
watching the death of Jesus from a distance (15:40) and they also
had seen where the body of Jesus was laid (15:47).
At Jesus’ crucifixion Mark told us that
from noon until three o’clock, when he died, "darkness came over the
whole land" (15:33). The women got to the tomb at sunrise. We know
the gospel writers aren’t just interested in precise days or time.
The time of day, "when the sun had risen," hints that the women are
about to experience something new; something they never could have
imagined. It is the beginning of a new day. The darkness, which had
previously overshadowed humans, is now being pierced by a light only
God can provide. Remember too, that during the darkness Jesus cried
out in agony asking his Father why he had abandoned him. Light
suggests that God has entered the story and has overcome the
The women presumably set out in
darkness. We are no strangers to their journey, for who among us has
not had to travel in the dark? Who has not, at one time or another,
felt sadness, grief from loss and the dark of pressing questions
left unanswered? But darkness does not have the last word; God comes
with light, offering us a new beginning.
On their way the women wonder who will
roll back the heavy stone covering the tomb. It’s another symbol of
the difficult situation which mere human effort cannot overcome.
They could not roll back the stone; but God would see to it. Notice
that the women "look up" and see that the stone had been removed.
Mark suggests this is not merely a physical act of raising one’s
eyes. They were about to "see" a revelation of God’s action. In
fact, when they look up they see an event that had already taken
place. God had already acted and they are about to hear a report of
God’s wonderful activity.
It’s the same for us. God has raised
Jesus from the dead and tonight, at our vigil, we hear again,
through the "young man," the announcement – the Easter proclamation
of what God and only God could do.
The women don’t find Jesus, just the
young man, "clothed in a white robe." There is no mention of the
garment the dead Jesus was wrapped in. That was for the dead; the
young man wears a white rope signifying a new life. Is there a
connection for us to the white robe we were clothed in at our
The young man speaks to us of what God
has done. He tells the women, "Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of
Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here." "Jesus
of Nazareth, the crucified," – is a summary of what evil forces had
done to Jesus. But God’s transforming power has reversed Jesus’
apparent failure; which is what God can do for Jesus’ disciples. Two
of the women had watched the burial and saw where he was laid
(15:47). Now the young man in white directs them to look again.
"Behold the place where they laid him." The women experienced Jesus’
death and burial; now God has acted. "He has been raised, he is not
here." God takes our experience of death and transforms it.
On the cross Jesus asked, "My God, my
God, why have you forsaken me" (15:34). Now Jesus’ question is
answered: God had not forsaken him. Through the obstacles Jesus met
throughout his ministry, his arrest, the abandonment by those
closest to him, his torture and execution. God had not abandoned
him. Through it all Jesus stayed obedient and faithful to God. God
didn’t desert him in his agony and now we learn God has acted on his
behalf, "He has been raised; he is not here."
People I meet in parishes and on
retreats can easily name the "dead spots" they experience in their
religion: once-full churches are now barely half-full; a whole
generation of young adults don’t practice the faith; teenagers have
other activities to distract them (soccer on both Saturdays and
Sundays); church scandal has further alienated former active
members; church school closings, etc. Our church, where we look for
life, can feel half dead and on the way to the tomb! We are a
community of believers who need God to step in and do something!
Move the heavy stone; act in our midst on behalf of the risen
What happened to the men in the story?
Where are those apostles whom Jesus called at the beginning of his
ministry? Weren’t they listening to him on the road to Jerusalem?
Why didn’t they take his threefold predictions of his suffering and
death more seriously? Mark has told us where they are: they have
disappeared from the story, symbolized perhaps by the young man who
ran away naked in the garden when Jesus was arrested (14:50-52).
Now a new community is going to be
created. During his life Jesus had promised that the gospel would be
preached to the ends of the earth (30:10). But the apostles and men
disciples are not around at the empty tomb to hear the first
proclamation of the gospel by the young man. So, he commissions the
women to go to proclaim the gospel message to the shattered
disciples. After the Last supper Jesus had promised that they would
be restored. "After I am raised up, I will go before you into
Galilee" (14:28). Now the young man tells the women, "He is going
before you to Galilee…." The promised new age is already in
progress. Mark has told us that Jesus had led his disciples to
Jerusalem, a place of endings (10:32). The disciples are now to go
to Galilee where they will encounter the risen Lord, be forgiven and
restored to discipleship.
If we look back from this vantage point
at our own life with Christ we, like those disciples, will surely
discover moments when we have failed to take up his cross in service
to others. We must acknowledge that our discipleship has been less
than stellar. Later, when the disciples are at table with the risen
Christ he rebukes them for their "unbelief and hardness of heart
because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been
raised" (18:14). But the rebuke ends there. He then sends them to
the whole world to preach.
So too with us, at this Eucharist. We
began our celebration conscious of our sins and failings as
disciples. Then we heard the gospel mandate to the women and to us,
to tell the good news to others. The women have seen the empty tomb.
Christ is present to us and the world in a new way. They are told to
go to Galilee, the place where Jesus began his mission. But more.
The Galileans were a marginated people, considered half-pagans by
the "religious pure bloods" in Jerusalem. The disciples will
continue what Jesus did in his ministry, reach out to those on the
Paul reminds us we have been baptized
into Christ’s death. "We were indeed buried with him through baptism
into death...." Just as Christ was raised, so have we been raised
into "newness of life." Mark’s gospel is ending with the disciples
being sent back to Galilee to start all over again with a new
beginning – "newness of life." We can be witnesses to the
resurrection by accepting the new, resurrected life Christ offers
us, putting aside previous guilt and selfishness and helping others
experience the freedom that comes with belief in the resurrection.
---Click here for a link to this Sunday’s
Easter is God’s class action suit against sin and death
—James A. Forbes, quoted
in, "The Living Pulpit," April-May, 2005, Page 45.
JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD
Come and See!
Each Easter Sunday and Christmas Day,
the Urbi et Orbi ("To the City [of Rome] and to the
World") address and blessing are given from the central loggia of
Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, at noontime and are broadcast
worldwide through the European Broadcasting Union and other linkups,
including the internet. Tune in today to hear the Pope’s message for
2015. Below are excerpts from Pope Francis’ inspiring message for
Easter Sunday 2014:
"Dear Brothers and Sisters, a Happy and
The Church throughout the world echoes
the angel’s message to the women: "Do not be afraid! I know that you
are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has
been raised… Come, see the place where he lay" (Mt 28:5-6).
This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par
excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the
basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised,
Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the
Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it
first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which
Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died
on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made
him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over
hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over
falsehood, life over death.
That is why we tell everyone: "Come
and see!" In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin
and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a
testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about
leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to
those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing
at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast… "Come and
see!": Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes
hope blossom in the wilderness.
With this joyful certainty in our
hearts, today we turn to you, risen Lord! Help us to seek you and to
find you, to realize that we have a Father and are not orphans; that
we can love and adore you. Help us to overcome the scourge of
hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for
which we are often responsible. Enable us to protect the vulnerable,
especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times
exploited and abandoned…Comfort all those who cannot celebrate this
Easter with their loved ones because they have been unjustly torn
from their affections, like the many persons, priests and laity, who
in various parts of the world have been kidnapped. Comfort those who
have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a
better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity
and, not infrequently, of freely professing their faith. We ask you,
Lord Jesus, to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether
great or small, ancient or recent...Lord, we pray to you for all the
peoples of the earth: you who have conquered death, grant us your
life, grant us your peace! Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Easter!"
---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS
Coordinator of Social Justice Ministries
Sacred Heart Cathedral--Raleigh, N.C.
Mini-reflections on the Sunday
scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is
also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people
From today’s Gospel reading:
Very early when the sun had risen, on the
first day of the week,
[the women] came to the tomb.
Apparently, when the women began their
journey to the tomb, it was dark. We are no strangers to their
journey, for who among us has not had to travel in the dark? Who has
not felt sadness, grief from loss or the dark of pressing questions
left unanswered? But darkness does not have the last word. God comes
with light, offering us a new beginning.
So we ask ourselves:
- Can we name a darkness in our
- What can we do, or where can we go
to get help in that darkness?
POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES
"The use of the death
penalty cannot really be mended. It should be ended."
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick
Inmates on death row are the most
forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this
space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a
postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not
forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through
North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If
the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.
Please write to:
- Frank Chambers #0071799 (On death
row since 3/10/94)
- William Barnes #0020590 (3/10/94)
- Jeffrey Kandies #0221506 (4/20/94)
----Central Prison 4285 Mail Service
Center, Raleigh 27699-4285
For more information on the Catholic
position on the death penalty go to the webpage of the Catholic
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