Peter proceeded to speak and said: "You know 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. We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name."(P) The word of the Lord.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever. Let the house of Israel say, "His mercy endures forever." (R)
The right hand of the Lord has struck with power; the right hand of the Lord is exalted. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. (R)
The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. (R)
Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on Earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.(P) The word of the Lord.
On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him."
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial clothes there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
Once, two men approached each other in a hotel lobby. "Good morning, Paul. How are you?" "I am fine, Alex, but my name is not Paul." "Oh! mine is not Alex either." "No worries", said Paul, "We are probably not ourselves today."
More than two thousand years ago, on the first day of the week following Jesus' crucifixion and death, some women of Jerusalem - namely Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome - were certainly not themselves. They were heartbroken and grieving over the death of their beloved master, teacher and friend, Jesus. They had seen him stripped not only of his clothes but also of every possible shred of human dignity, killed in the most horrible way possible, and laid in a tomb. They had followed Joseph of Arimathea, who had secured permission from Pilate to bury the body of Jesus and, watched him anoint Jesus' body with spices and perfumed oils, wrap it in linen clothes and bury it, Luke (23:55); John (19:39-40).
However, they were probably not satisfied with the burial: John tells us that Jesus' body was placed in the tomb in haste and only temporarily because it was Friday, the day of Preparation, the day when the Jews prepared for the Sabbath, John (19:42).
After the burial, the women anxiously and fearfully waited for the Sabbath to pass and then, on the early morning of the first day of the week, they decided to go to the tomb and anoint the body of Jesus with spices once again and, perhaps in some small way, return to him the dignity which had been so cruelly taken away. But that morning, their great concern was the stone that sealed the tomb. Obviously, the stone was too heavy to be rolled aside by three women: "It was very large", Mark (16:4).
While Mark writes that the women were walking to the tomb and discussing about the stone at the tomb entrance, Luke simply presents that they found it moved when they arrived. Whatever the case, and despite their misgivings, the women went to the tomb out of deep affection for their Lord. They found the large stone rolled aside and were greeted by a young man clothed in a white robe, an angel as described by Matthew in his gospel, who told them that Jesus had risen. Their worries, as it turned out, were needless. The stone had not been rolled away by someone with a man's strength but by God's, and not so that the Lord could emerge but to allow the women to go in, see the empty tomb and be convinced of the resurrection of Jesus.
The women could have chosen not to begin their journey to the tomb for they knew that there was an obstacle in the way - a large stone between them and their task. And yet, they decided to go and try rather than staying indoors like the others who were hiding behind closed doors in fear of the Jewish leaders.
Just as the stone sealing the tomb was an obstacle to those women to minister to the body of Jesus, so too may there be stones and rocks in our lives which prevent us from reaching out in faith to Jesus Christ to receive His gift of salvation or eternal life, keep us from following the will of God in our lives and work against our attainment of the fullness of joy in life. These stones and rocks may come in different shapes and sizes. Whether they are big or small, they block our way and trap us in anxiety, doubt, worry, disappointment, grief, sadness and fear and, ultimately lead to a loss of faith in ourselves, in others and a further loss of faith and belief in God. What are the stones in your life right now? Are there times when you look at these stones standing in your way and feel powerless and afraid? Do you feel you are not strong enough to move any of these stones and wonder who will move them for you?
If there are any stones or obstacles in your way today - be it family or relationship problems, or financial stress, job loss or hostile co-workers, or deadly sins such as resentment, anger, hatred, envy, lust, pride, greed or addiction to drugs, alcohol, or gambling - please know that just as God rolled away the stone so as to allow the women's entrance into the tomb and to make them believe in the resurrection, God is there to remove all of them out of the way and fill your life with faith, truth, hope, peace and joy.
There is no stone which God cannot remove from your life. No stone is too large or heavy for Him to remove from your path. There is no doubt that God Himself could roll all the stones away or send down legions of angels to clear away every single stone, if you only have faith: if you only believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who has, through His death on the cross, removed two great barriers - sin and fear of death - which stood in the way of God's blessing on us.
We are Christians who believe in God's power. Therefore, let our trust and confidence not rest in our own understanding, in our own might, in our own abilities, in our own strength, nor in our own wisdom, but in the power of God so that He will make our paths straight, Proverbs (3:5-6); 1 Corinthians (2:4-5).
I wish you all a Happy Easter!(P) Amen.
Happy Easter, Alleluia! God Bless You!