Father Leslie Hoppe, OFM

March 31: Resurrection of the Lord

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

An Easter faith

Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Col 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-9

No one expected it. Not Mary Magdalene, nor any of the other women and men who followed Jesus from Galilee.

Mary Magdalene came to the tomb to complete the customary preparations of Jesus’ body for a proper burial. These preparations were cut short on the day Jesus died by the approaching Sabbath, when such activities were forbidden.

When she came to the tomb on the day after the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene was surprised to find the stone that sealed the tomb was rolled away from its entrance. She was stunned to find the tomb empty, and Jesus’ body gone.

All sorts of questions began coming to her still-grieving mind. Did someone make off with the body? Who would have subjected the body of someone like Jesus to such an indignity? What purpose would that serve?

Mary went to find Jesus’ disciples to tell them of the startling developments. Upon hearing Mary’s report, Peter and the Beloved Disciple ran to the tomb.

The evangelist notes that the two disciples “did not yet understand the Scripture that (Jesus) had to rise from the dead” (Jn 20:9). But how could they? The last thing they expected after Jesus’ tragic death was that he would rise from the dead three days later.

The story of the empty tomb is the conclusion to the story of Jesus’ passion and death. The proper ending of that story is not the burial of Jesus in the tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea. The proper ending of that story is discovering that tomb no longer held the body of Jesus. How could it?

When death claimed the author of life, it overstepped its bounds. It was impossible for death to keep the author of life subject to its power. Jesus had to rise from the dead and in doing so, he destroyed the power that death holds over every human being.

Death’s apparent victory over Jesus was only temporary. Similarly, the hold that death has on those who believe in Jesus, is only temporary, since they have died with Christ and rose with him at their baptism.

The beloved disciple, who entered the empty tomb, saw and believed. This is the only instance in the Gospels of someone coming to Easter faith by simply seeing the empty tomb.

We are like that beloved disciple. We have not seen the risen Jesus, nor heard his voice, nor touched his wounds, but we believe. But what do we believe? What is Easter faith?

We believe, of course, that God raised Jesus from the dead, but Easter faith involves more than what God did for Jesus. We believe that Jesus is the firstborn of many sisters and brothers. Easter faith is the belief that there is a future for every human being beyond this world and this life. We believe that the desire within us to live will be satisfied because of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

Easter faith is the belief that through the grace of God all who believe already have risen with Christ to a new and eternal life with God.

No one expected it, but it did happen. Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed!


  • scripture