Completing Christ’s mission Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Ps 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Col 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-9 The death of a loved one is always profoundly upsetting — especially if it is unexpected and violent. Jesus’ disciples were not prepared for Good Friday. They accompanied Jesus from their homes in Galilee to Jerusalem. The people of the city welcomed Jesus with surprising enthusiasm, which was a good sign. The disciples wondered if it was the time for the final restoration of Israel as promised by the prophets. In the days that followed, some religious leaders did challenge Jesus, but he had always been able to handle himself well in similar confrontations. Toward the end of the week, however, matters changed significantly. While Jesus was at prayer in Gethsemane, armed men sent by Jerusalem’s religious authorities placed Jesus under arrest. His disciples abandoned Jesus to his fate. In quick order, Jesus was tried before a religious tribunal on trumped up charges of blasphemy, bolstered by perjured testimony. The members of the tribunal condemned Jesus to death. He was jailed until he could stand for another trial before Pilate, the representative of the emperor. Acting against his better judgment, Pilate ordered Jesus’ execution. Within a few hours, Jesus was dead. The disciples surely wondered what would become of them once Jesus died, as did their expectations for the future with him. They were far from home in Galilee and among people who called for their teacher’s death. They were associates of a person condemned by both Jerusalem’s religious and civil authorities. In fear for their lives, the disciples went into hiding. Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ female disciples, decided to ignore her fear. She returned to the place where Jesus was buried but found that his tomb had been opened and his body was removed. Mary assumed that Jesus’ body had been stolen. She hurried back to the place where the disciples were hiding to inform Peter and the beloved disciple what she saw. The two disciples ran to investigate. Perhaps they ran because they were hoping against hope that it was not a case of disturbing a corpse — one last indignity perpetrated by Jesus’ enemies. The two disciples did not know what to think. The beloved disciple arrived first but waited to enter the tomb with Peter. They saw the shroud in which Jesus was buried. The beloved disciple believed, though he did not yet understand, that the resurrection was the culmination of Jesus’ glorification. What a turnabout. In an instant, the dead Jesus became the living Christ. The effect of the resurrection on Jesus’ disciples was astounding. They began letting go of their expectations and started to accept Jesus on his own terms. They began to see that it was their mission to complete his work on earth — to announce the Good News of God’s reconciliation with the human family. With a short time, Peter was doing just that, as today’s first lesson describes. We too are responsible for completing Christ’s mission. To equip ourselves for this mission, the church asks us today to recommit ourselves to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in solidarity with all those new believers throughout the world who were baptized during the Easter Vigil. They are beginning their new life in Christ; we are renewing that life within us. At our baptism we died with Christ and then rose with him to a new life and a new purpose and a new hope. When Jesus died, he handed over his spirit to his disciples. The spirit of Jesus gave them new life — a life with God. At our baptism we too received the spirit of Jesus that gave us new life and the mission to show the world what new life in Christ can be because of our reconciliations with God achieved by Jesus’ death and resurrection. The death of a loved one remakes us. The passage of time may lessen the feelings of grief though we are never the same after the death of someone close to us. When Jesus handed over his spirit at the moment of his death, he recreated all who believe, giving us the power to become children of God, sharing in God’s own life. We receive that new life by faith and with gratitude for what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.