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Thu, April 1, 20213 mins readminicatNina S. Heereman, SSD

Easter Sunday - Year B

Christ is risen! He has truly risen!

Christ is risen! He has truly risen! After 46 days of marching through the desert of Lent, there is an Easter message today: Christ is risen!

In the Gospel, as taken every year from the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene, like the bride in the Song of Songs, comes in the morning while it was still dark, looking for her beloved in the streets and squares of the city and does not find him. She runs to Peter and John and says, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him." (Jn 20,2)

Peter and John run. John runs faster. Why? Because John who rested at the Heart of Christ at the Last Supper is so filled with the fullness of the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that he is considered the disciple of love for all time. Love runs faster.

Peter takes a little longer and so John arrives first but lets Peter go first. Here, as in other passages of the Gospel, one can already see Peter's primacy rooted: love gives way to the office. Peter goes in first, John follows.

John sees the linen bandages lying there and believes. He believes without seeing the Risen One. Only the empty tomb is enough for him, unlike Thomas who will say, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." (Jn 20,25) John believes without seeing. "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." (Jn 20,29)

Peter was the first witness of the resurrection. In the New Testament, in the first letter to the Corinthians, it says: "He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures, and appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (...) Last of all he appeared also to me." (1 Cor 15,4-5.8) Just as Peter is the first to testify to the deity of Christ (cf. Peter's confession of Christ and Jesus' promise in Mt 16,13-20) and Jesus said to him in response, "You are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of the underworld will not prevail against it." (Mt 16,18); so Peter's first task is to testify to the resurrection of Christ.

This is precisely what he does when he appears before the Jews. Indeed, in the first reading in the Acts of the Apostles, we hear him say, "You know the word (that) he sent to the Israelites as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him." (Acts 10,36-38)

He then speaks of what we call the kerygma: That which is essential to have internalised as a Christian, the centre of faith. Namely, that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, that the Father raised him on the third day, appointed him judge of the living and the dead, and that forgiveness of sins is given in his name to all who believe in his name (cf. Acts 10,39-43).

So the four most important points of a Christian are not the Ten Commandments or any other moral law. Although our humanitarian world is full of morals, the most important message of Christ is different:

  1. Christ died for our sins.

  2. He rose from the dead.

  3. He is the judge of the living and the dead.

  4. Everyone who believes in his name obtains forgiveness of sins in his name.

Salvation is given to us in no other name than the name of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the name of Jesus is sacred to us. Whenever we speak the name of Jesus, we experience the healing he gives us in his name. "For, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Rom 10,9). AMEN! ∎