Easter Sunday – Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“The Victory Of Life”.
Easter is the height of our religious celebrations because it represents the ultimate breakthrough – from death to new life.
No such breakthrough had ever occurred before. Now it has. Jesus has risen from the dead. In the Easter light, and in that light alone, the shadows and darkness of life receive a new meaning, “We will find the strength we need to follow Christ through life and in death and resurrection.”
As we renew our baptismal vows this Easter Sunday, let us do so with a clear mind and a heart full of hope and joy, for in Christ we are gifted with a faith that will help us shape this life, and it will finally bring us into the fullness of God’s loving embrace.
The first reading tells us Jesus’ story: he loved the world so much that he gave up his life for all people; but just when everything seems to end in failure, God intervenes and raises his ‘Faithful Servant’ from the dead. This is also the message of the Gospel passage. The second reading tells us that the victory of life must be made manifest in our lives through our deeds.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation, are from the published works of priests who have, by their Divine inspiration, become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word, we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
Acts 10:34a, 37-43.
Today, we hear the words of Peter to Cornelius, the first Gentile to be accepted as a Christian. His words are significant, for the message is that God wants salvation for all (1 Tm. 2:4) and for giving us the fullest outline of the life of Jesus outside the Gospels. This begins with the mission of John the Baptist and ends with the commission of the apostles. They were to bear witness to what the ‘Risen Lord’ proclaimed and to his future return as ‘Judge’ (Lk. 24:46-47; Acts. 1:11).
There are three lessons of importance here. The first is that Jesus is the ‘Anointed One’ of God whose earthly ministry of healing and salvation was certified and validated by his Resurrection from the dead. The second, there were witnesses; witnesses to his life and to his return from the dead, witnesses empowered to testify to his ongoing ‘Messianic’ mission. The third, the saving power of Jesus that is attested to by his Resurrection and by the testimony of his witnesses is not addressed to the Jews alone, but is meant for “all who believe in him.”
Cornelius and his household, to whom Peter had been sent, represents the whole wide world, called to share the life of the ‘Risen Christ’. In this reading for Easter Sunday we hear the message of salvation delivered by Peter in the house of the gentiles under the direction of the Holy Spirit. It is important that there be witnesses, people to tell others about Jesus and the meaning of life and death and the Resurrection. If there had been no Peter to testify to what he had experienced, the ‘Good News’ of salvation might have never got to Cornelius. All of us who are believers have had some contact with the ‘Risen Lord’. By our baptism, we are called to be witnesses to him.
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23. R/ v.24.
The psalm is one of the ‘hallel’ Psalms, sung at the Last Supper by Jesus and his disciples (Mk. 14:26). The phrases about the ‘Rejected Stone’ originating from Isaiah 28:16, is one of the prophetic texts that testify to Jesus which Peter includes in his message in Acts. 10:43. The psalm was interpreted by Christians as referring to the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, who was first rejected and then exalted. He is the stone which the builders rejected but which has now become the cornerstone of the new people of God. (Eph. 2:20; 1 Cor. 3:11).
In the second reading, we find a profound understanding of the dignity of Christ and the status of the Christian who shares in this dignity through baptism (Col. 2:12; Rom. 6:3).
But Christians have not been removed from this world. We have still to put to death in ourselves values opposed to those of Christ. Living in our faith, we must never forget how the Christ, who is now in glory, (Ps.110:1) is to return. Only then will the full status of the Christian be revealed through a sharing in the glory of Christ.
The readings from Colossians and Romans link baptism and resurrection. In the renewal of baptismal promises we commit ourselves to avoiding sin and living a life directed towards God. Let our minds be on heavenly things … our life is hidden with God in Christ.
1 Corinthians 5:6b-8. *(Optional)
Paul tells us that we boast, and we must get rid of the ‘Old Yeast’ and make ourselves into a completely new batch of bread, unleavened as we are meant to be. Unlike in the Gospels, where leaven is a symbol of the inner dynamism of the kingdom, Paul uses it as a metaphor for the corrupting influence of evil.
The background is to the Jewish custom of destroying all leaven in preparation for the Pascal festival, during which only unleavened bread was permitted. Christians, particularly during this period of Holy Week and Easter, must practice the ‘unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’ if we are to follow Jesus in his Resurrection into new life in the Way and the Truth and the Life.
On the first day of the week, early in the morning, Mary of Magdala goes to the tomb when it is still dark. It is just like on the first morning of creation when God began by separating light from darkness.
In the ‘Risen Jesus’, a new creation has begun. God renews all things. Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, are shown together racing to the tomb. A subtle hierarchy is established between them. Priority is given to Peter who authenticates the emptiness of the tomb and the astonishing order it represents, signs that Jesus was not removed, but that he went away leaving behind the wrappings of death. This is different from Lazarus who came out of the tomb still shrouded.
Priority is also given to the most loving and most faithful disciple. He arrived first at the tomb. The disciple that Jesus loved is the first to arrive at Pascal faith, without any need for Scriptures. ‘Love’ is always the surest way to get to the ‘Truth’.
Peter and the beloved disciple leave, yet Mary stands vigil at the tomb. Her posture is one of tremendous humility, for she actually bends down into the tomb without going inside. Now Mary sees what the other two disciples did not see: two divine messengers sitting where Jesus’ body had lain.
This detail is John’s way of highlighting an imminent revelation. In fact Mary receives not only a message but the Lord himself, for Jesus appears and speaks to her. Still, until the ‘Good Shepherd’ calls her by name, she does not realize that it is Jesus who speaks. Then the wave of recognition is instantaneous. Jesus commissions Mary to announce his Resurrection to the other disciples. The Easter Story is a human-interest story that beats all others. Jesus, human like us in all things except for sin, after a night of degrading torture, followed by death between two criminals on a cross, rises out of the tomb, and by doing that, connects all of us to the power of resurrection and the hope of a new life that will go on forever. The mystery of death has been broken open and its power defeated.
Death now becomes a shining moment of transformation in the course of God’s eternal day, where the ‘Risen Christ’ is now Lord of all life. That is the joy of the Easter message, the hope that fills our hearts today; that the new life of the ‘Risen Lord’ is our destiny too.
When we look at our world today we have to close our eyes and our ears not to see and hear how suffering and violence continue to disfigure the lives of so many people. There are people among us who can feel their wounds. As Christians we have to make our protest against death in the midst of life.
To accept suffering and death as inevitable is to empty the Resurrection of its power for today. A ‘Resurrection Faith’ faces the Cross and protests against the finality of that violence. Jesus did not raise himself, he was raised by God. The truth that God raised Jesus from the dead gives hope and help to all those who want that miracle repeated in the midst of life.
We must believe that God’s work continues, not least because we believe Jesus’ words: “I am the Resurrection and the Life”. We can all experience something of the reality of the Resurrection when we see new life in the midst of hopelessness and despair.
The message of the Resurrection, ever ancient, ever new, is that Christ is not “here” inhabiting the realm of the dead, but emptied death of its power. Christians today are called to live, proclaim and celebrate this victory by resisting all those forms of death and violence that saturate our worldly cultures. The women at the tomb remember the words of Jesus about suffering; their story, dismissed as nonsense, was that Jesus was raised up from the tomb, but only after descending into death’s chamber.
The flowers that adorn our homes and churches this Easter come from the seeds that died and were transformed, as Christian life can flower through the mystery of the Cross. The words from the Easter Sequence capture this beautifully: Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando, “life and death are locked in wondrous struggle.” The struggle endures, though ultimate victory is assured: Dux vitae mortuus regnat vivus, “Life’s leader once dead reigns as the ‘Living One’.”
As we light our candles from the Easter Candle, let us remember to allow the Light of Christ shine in us and to allow our faith in the “Risen Christ” to change the world in which we live, by bringing love and peace to all.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following Easter Sunday Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … Peter now understands God’s will for the salvation of all humanity and bears witness to what the Risen Lord had proclaimed. Are we witnesses to the Risen Lord by the way we follow his teachings manifested in the way we live our lives?
Mon. … Through our Baptism we are to proclaim and testify to others how the ‘Good News’ has changed our lives, and how it can bring them ‘new life’, joy and happiness. Have we been able to achieve this?
Tues. … If there had been no Peter to testify the ‘Good News’, the opportunity of salvation may never have reached Cornelius and his family. Consider the implications of not fulfilling our God-given role as witnesses; we may be denying others the truth and the opportunity of accepting Jesus’ gift of redemption. Could we live with the heavy burden of that guilt?
Wed. … The Psalm phrases the ‘rejected stone’ originating from the prophet Isaiah. In Jesus’ death and Resurrection, Christians see in his ‘Passion’, the rejection by those he came to save and the exaltation in eternal glory by the Father. The stone that the builders of our unbelieving society have rejected has become the cornerstone of our Christian faith and the heart of all truth. Have we made Jesus the ‘cornerstone’ in building our lives in his ‘Way’?
Thur. … In our journey of faith, many of us still have to put to death in ourselves the false hopes and values that we keep holding on to, which are opposed to those of Christ. We cannot ‘cherry-pick’ the teaching of Christ and leave out that which may not suit our life-styles. Neither can we accept out of context verses in the Scriptures and Gospel that suit our purposes and assume that it is correct as the word of God.
Frid. … Jesus’ Resurrection has several important consequences. It validates all that he said and did. It fulfills the teachings of the prophets of the Old Testament. Without any doubt it confirms the divinity of Jesus. The mystery of ‘death’ has been broken and its power defeated. It restores us back to God’s grace. When we renew our ‘baptismal promises’ this Easter, let us do so with love, courage and commitment and rise to a new life directed towards God.
Sat. … As witnesses to Christ’s teachings, we all have to make a stand against the suffering, violence, corruption and abuses that continue to destroy the lives of so many innocent people. Through positive action we need to rid our society and communities of this sin against God’s gift of life. We pray that we the Church by acts of love will take the lead in the cleansing of values in our society. Let us all pray for a ‘resurrection of faith’ that faces the Cross and that all Christians will actively protest against the decaying moral values with the firm belief that God would want that miracle repeated in the midst of life.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, by raising Christ Your Son, You conquered the power of death and sin and opened for us the ‘Way’ to eternal life. In our journey of faith give us the courage to stand up for the ‘Truth’ and against the suffering, violence, corruption and abuses that continue to plague and erode our societies. We pray Father that Your Spirit will raise us up to a new ‘Life’ in Christ and bring to us the glory of the Resurrection.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group. Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.