Easter Sunday | Jn 20:1-18
Within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, there is a very small structure known as the Edicule. As far as archaeologists and historians can tell, this tiny chapel houses the remains of the tomb in which Jesus was placed after he died. The Edicule recently went through a major restoration in which was uncovered the original stone ledge on which the body of Jesus was placed. If you’re interested, National Geographic made an excellent documentary of the process. When I was studying for a few months in Jerusalem, I had the opportunity to celebrate Mass in this incredible space. In spite of the early Mass time (5:30!), it was an incredible experience. While there, I was struck by the fact that I was in the very place where the dead body of Jesus was placed. Of this, I could be quite certain. I was in the place where, in the Gospel today, the beloved disciple entered, saw that the body of Jesus was gone and believed that Jesus had rose from the dead. While in the tomb early in the morning, I began to question myself. Although I knew that this was the place where Jesus was placed after his death, did I, like the beloved disciple, really believe that Jesus rose again? This was a harder question for me to answer. It is a question we can all ask ourselves this Easter morning.Edicule (source)Having faith in the Resurrection of Jesus is not always an easy thing to do, yet there are reasons why I continue to believe. Believing in the Resurrection can be difficult at times. It is not as though there is security footage that records the event happening! There are, however, reasons why I believe. I believe because of the testimony of the apostles who claimed to witness the risen Jesus. Peter and the others – who were so afraid when Jesus was crucified that they all fled – gave their lives for the message that Jesus rose from the dead. I believe because of the holiness of the saints, the Christians who have lived and continue to live lives of extraordinary service and love. These saints (whether they be the famous ones or those who live their lives in obscurity) give me hope. They fill me with faith that the Risen Christ lives in them. I believe because I have experienced some small part of the life Jesus comes to bring. I have experienced his forgiveness and love. I have been inspired by his words I read in the Gospel. What are the reasons why you believe in the Resurrection? Believing in the Resurrection of Jesus is not easy, but there are reasons to believe.
When we have faith in the Resurrection of Jesus, it leads us to have a sense of hope as we go through life. This hope is founded in the trust that God will fulfill the promises that he made to us in Jesus. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead, thereby conquering sin and evil, so he will be victorious over all the evil and troubles of our current age and raise each of us up on the last day. This hope is important because there are times when life can seem dark. Personal struggles with health, finances or relationships can contribute to this darkness. The world can also seem like a dark place when we see the various problems and evil in our world. The wars and terrorism. Politicians’ rhetoric which demeans the value of human life, whether it be of the unborn, the aged, the immigrant, the poor and those of other religions, cultures and backgrounds. The hope we have that is grounded in the Resurrection should fundamentally influence how we confront this darkness. Recently, I heard a Bishop describe it this way (Bishop Caggiano). There are two times in each day when it is dark: at dusk, when the day is ending, and at dawn, when a new day is breaking. When we see darkness, each of us needs to decide where we want to stand, in the dusk or in the dawn. When we have faith in the Resurrection, we choose to stand in the dawn. We choose not to focus only on the darkness but on the light that has dawned with the Resurrection of Jesus and the goodness that we can see all around us if we are looking. Faith in the Resurrection leads us to live in the dawn. It makes us people of hope.