Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mass Reflections - Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday
Resurrection of the Lord
The Mass of Easter Day
The readings for the Mass can be found here.
Related Flickr theme here.

The father of the parish I go to told the same homily this morning as he did last night at the Easter Vigil. He spoke on the the two apostles, to which the scriptures for Mass had related as follows:

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 cloths 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 the 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.

The scriptures noted that the other disciple is known as the one whom Jesus loved. Some speculate that St. John, or, as others believe, the deciples of St. John, who are believed to have written the Gospel of John, was/were referencing St. John himself as this beloved one. In Christian Tradition, to which even the Gospels testify to, it is believed that St. John had a prominent position in the Apostolic body. Saint Peter, St James and St John were the only witnesses of the raising of Jairus' daughter [Mk. 5:37], of the Transfiguration [Mt. 17:1], and of the Agony in Gethsemane [Mt 26:37]. Only St. John and St. Peter were sent into the city to make the preparation for the final Passover meal to which Christ sets anew as the Last Supper [Lk 22:8]. At the meal itself, St. John's place was next to Jesus on whose chest he leaned [Jn 13:23-25]. According to the general interpretation, John was also that "other disciple" who with St. Peter followed Jesus after the arrest into the palace of the high-priest [Jn. 18:15]. St. John alone remained near Jesus at the foot of the cross on Calvary with Jesus’ mother, Mary, and the pious women and took Mary into his care as the last legacy of Jesus. Needless to say, and with all the talk either hyped by St. John's disciples, or by St. John himself to testify to his place next to Christ as the beloved disciple, it wouldn't be surprising that he found others jealous of him, and maybe ever, for lack of a better and less profane word, cocky, boastful, and maybe even a show off. In some ways, and considering the critique of a certain *ahem* 'father' of sorts who resides in a certain RP city that shall remain nameless, I can relate to this 'beloved disciples' in that certain nature it seems. <.<

However, what this real father from a real life parish mentioned about the scriptures pertains more to St. Peter. Yes, this disciple that was beloved did indeed beat St. Peter to the tomb of Jesus. But, it wast St. Peter that went into the tomb first, and the beloved disciple that followed him in. You see, under Jewish traditions, to go into a tomb made one unclean, and one would have to seek a priest to gain attonement in order to enter the temple again. So, the beloved disciple was still holding to the prudence of the Jewish traditions, while St. Peter, to whom the father claimed in his sermon that this was a brash move done by St. Peter, to which follows his nature throughout the Gospels. For he often did leap forward before the others, and at times, St. Peter found himself treading water and putting his foot in his mouth due to his assertiveness. Suppose, in some ways, that's a testament to leadership in general, that those who set out first in something, they are not perfect, and they do make mistakes, but yet, they pave the way for others to follow. And so, this is what is testified in the Gospel. Yes, the beloved one made it to the cave that held Jesus dead first, but it was St. Peter who enters first, to see for himself that Jesus has risen. The beloved one follows behind St. Peter, and he too believes. Neither of them had yet to understand the scripture that stated that Chirst had to rise from the dead, but none the less, they came to the tomb, St. Peter entering first, then the beloved, and they both came to believe.

Regardless of any arguments any Christians may have upon the Scriptures and the perspectives each have about these events, the most important aspect is the belief, the faith that was shown. To be a Christian, to be of Christ, believe that our Lord has risen is at the very essence of our faith. Though the Epistle for today helps put the Creed in perspective, I go back to last night's reading from St. Paul to the Romans to press the importance of the Resurrection as such:

Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.

Without Christ's resurrection, our baptism into him would render nothing. Yes, we die with him, but we also live in him. As He dies, we die as well. And, as our Lord live, so do we live in Him. This is not herecy, this is what is written in Scripture, and also what out Traditions testify to, unto which the Creed itself, Christians in universal chorus testify that:

He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into dead. On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

We believe Christ has died, and we believe Christ is risen. Χριστὸς ἀνέστη.