Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of April 12, 2009
Resurrection of Our Lord (Year B)
1st Reading: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 117; 2nd Reading: Col 3:1-4; Gospel: Jn 20:1-9
The three readings of today's Holy Mass represent three different stages of fulfillment of Redemption.
To the redeeming event par excellence the witnesses were the souls of Heaven and a single living person on earth: Our Lady. In fact, in the Gospel there is no description of the scene of Resurrection, but only what happened next.
After Jesus' death, men were indifferent or even satisfied for getting rid of an annoying character who was bothering them; priests and powerful people were among them. This behavior happened again in the Church history. Not even the humble and those who had received from Him miraculous healings were there, there were only a few soldiers. All of Heaven instead was enjoying because with Christ's saving sacrifice the gates of Heaven opened.
The Resurrection of Jesus took place according to a mentality quite different from Earthly mentality. If, paradoxically, we men had had to organize the event of Jesus' Resurrection, we would have called the most important, powerful and influential characters of that time: priests, judges and the Sanhedrin. God the Father, by contrast, sent around the whole of Heaven.
This particular has never been revealed, but it is very important.
Incarnation was an action willed by the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and therefore the Trinity attended the Resurrection with its blinding light, accompanied by wonderful chants together with the whole of Heaven. Therefore Christ, the Son of God, in the divine nature making up His Person, was there with the Father and witnessed His Resurrection.
At the time established by the Most Holy Trinity, Christ's human and divine nature got together bursting in such a strong light that it spread all over the Earth: the whole of Heaven, the angels, the saints (just back to Heaven from Holy Friday) and Our Lady welcomed the Son of God with songs of joy.
I believe God will allow us too to enjoy the sight of this wonderful event when we will reach Him in Heaven. Besides, God has allowed more than one person to see all of that, even to Marisa sometimes, so if some living beings saw it, any soul who will enjoy the Heaven will see it as well. Let's get ready to enjoy this wonderful show. I think we will attend to all the other most memorable scenes from Jesus' life: from the Annunciation in Nazareth, to the birth in Bethlehem, up to the Resurrection.
Since Jesus' death and up to Resurrection Sunday, the apostles remained together in the Cenacle and the Gospel does not provide any other details, but you can make some assumptions. They somewhat behaved like chickens around Our Lady: sad, disappointed and embittered, yet, many times Jesus had foretold his passion, death and Resurrection, but they did not understand Him.
In the last passage of today's Gospel of John it is written: "They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead" (Jn 20:9). The apostles did not understand this concept, even if they had heard it so many times, because they could not understand how a dead person would have been able to resurrect.
It was very difficult to accept; they witnessed many miracles performed by Jesus when He was alive, but they were not able to understand how and who would rise Him from death.
Our Lady could have comforted them and remind them the teachings of Christ, but she preferred to remain silent, for it was God's will that the apostles would live this waiting with anxiety, with bitterness and sorrow also as repayment for that moment of weakness, when they fled, leaving Jesus alone. Often, suffering has therapeutic value, to improve and strengthen the soul.
The apostles, gathered in the Cenacle, were sad and suffering, but the sorrow that each of them was feeling was in proportion to the love each of them had for Christ, everyone loved him a lot, but not with the same strength. Our Lady, in turn, suffered in seeing her children so saddened. However, those were the last moments before the fulfillment of God's plans.
Surely, The Mother of the Eucharist encouraged them to face those painful moments by inviting them to pray. Many times she suggested us to pray in hard and sad times.
The apostles, in their own way, would have prayed and the most common prayer was the one Jesus had taught them: the Our Father. They would have also recited together the Psalms, read the scripture, without fully understanding it, in particular the proclamations of passion, especially those of prophet Isaiah, but fear and sadness of being left alone, without Jesus, had clouded their minds. They were waiting and the hours were slow and endless and the more the time went by the more they felt disheartened and depressed.
When the women announced to the apostles that the tomb was empty, Peter and John rushed, for they feared the enemy had taken away Jesus' body in order to silence everything once and for all. In fact, when the soldiers told the Sanhedrin the tomb was empty, the chief priests paid them, so they would declare that the disciples stole the body while they slept.
While the two apostles rushed to the tomb, they did not think at all that Jesus had risen. They understood only when getting in: "So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed". (Jn 20.8). John says: "He saw and believed". The Apostle in fact, had to believe, for he had buried Him and saw deflated bandages and shroud placed in the same way as when the body had been wrapped. Jesus had gone through bandages and sheet, leaving them intact and in the same position.
The first to believe was the apostle of love, therefore, to believe in Resurrection, we must love Christ; is not possible to believe in God and his works, if we love Him not. Those who love God believe in His works, those who do not love Him, do not believe in His works.
If you compare the story of what happened after Jesus' Resurrection in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, some non-uniformity appears to come to light. The reason is that the four evangelists did not talk with the same witnesses and then everyone reported different experiences. Some thought it was the gardener to take Jesus' body and take him away, while others, seeing the empty tomb, were afraid and preferred to say nothing.
It is nice to read the Gospel and encounter all the different human reactions.
In Acts of the Apostles the proclamation of Resurrection is the central theme of apostolic preaching. The apostles organized the catechesis to tell everything that Jesus had done and taught in his life. The passage of today's first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, reports Peter's speech at the home of the Roman centurion Cornelius: at that moment the Church became universal, because it was the first time he was preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. They listened and believed, then they were baptized. Before that time, the apostles spoke in the temple, addressing only the Jews who would occupy the most central and comfortable area to them reserved, while the Gentiles were on the far side.
In the second reading, taken from the letter to the Colossians, the concept of death is to be understood as sin and the resurrection as life united with Christ. S. Paul draws up a surprisingly logical deduction: if we want to be united with Christ and be as one with Him in the Resurrection, we must desire and focus on the things of Christ and not on those of the Earth, for they will assure us the entrance in Heaven, open thanks to His passion, death and Resurrection.
If men devote all their energy on things of high above, they have the possibility to fulfill themselves and reach their full potential as God desires. All this is the work of passion, death and Resurrection that we are living at the H. Mass, like Mary, John and the pious women.
This is Christianity, this great truth should be preached with due sharpness, brilliance and beauty. The arrogance of priesthood, unfortunately, is so big and revolting that they seek to constrain the divine Word to the human word because the men of the Church are interested to have the faithful influenced by their words and not by the Word of Christ, this is absurd, awful and disgusting