The WORD in other words (2023) by Fr Pio Estepa, SVD Divine Word Seminary, Tagaytay City
Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection
Image: Wikimedia Commons
“On the first day of the week…”
The opening reference to that blessed day is clearly symbolic. On the last day (Sabbath) of Creation, God rested. On the first day (Sunday) of a wholly new week, Abba the Father creates the firstborn of a new humanity gifted with immortal glory. Thus, he who was victim of all sin rose as victor over all evil.
The resurrection account of John next narrates how three of his most intimate disciples thought, felt, and acted on that blessed day.
“Mary of Magdala … seeing the stone removed from the tomb, ran to Simon Peter and the beloved disciple…”
How much her loving heart wished that Jesus were alive! But her candid mind bade her to resign to his violent death ―to which she was a helpless weeping witness. Her own bare hands helped his grieving mother in hurriedly cleansing his corpse for burial. So, the only sense she could make of the empty tomb was: the corpse was stolen, but who and why?
Peter … “did not yet understand the scripture that [the Messiah] had to rise from the dead.”
After Jesus’s arrest, the apostles fled for their lives. None of them was present with the brave mourning women during his passion and burial ―except the “beloved disciple .” So Peter, not knowing where the tomb was, could only follow the lead of the running other on that Easter dawn. Yet, out of respect for the primacy of Peter, that other let him enter the tomb first. What Peter saw next from within was as senseless as what Mary saw from without: the corpse could have only been stolen indeed, but who and why?
The hardnosed reactions of Mary and Peter attest only to this: that the rumor about a dead man coming back to life could not have had its source in the gullible folly or the mendacious malice of the first disciples of Jesus. For, at first, they were as cynical of such news as non-believers of their time.
Without the light of sacred scriptures, events in life remain opaque in meaning and marvel.
“The beloved disciple … saw and believed.”
Though some exegetes of today propose other erudite guesses of who else the “beloved disciple” may be, Catholic tradition identifies him more plausibly as John the Apostle. He did not take what he saw ―an empty tomb and unwrapped linen cloths left by an absent corpse― as empirical proofs that the Christ was risen. These just made him recall how Jesus was earlier living in accord with the mission of the Suffering Servant as foretold by prophetic scripture. In love for Jesus, John lived not by knowledge of sight ―but by insight of faith. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).