Posts Tagged 'John 20:1-18'

For April 20, 2014: Easter Day, Year A

The Reading            Jeremiah 31:1-6

In the time of Jeremiah, Israel was in bad shape; outlying tribes such as Ephraim distrusted the royal double dealing in Jerusalem, neighbors such as Samaria were regarded with disdain, and exile and violence were visited on the land. Jeremiah, surprisingly, foretells the party of parties: the Lord, for love, will bring all the families of Israel home.

The Response            Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Jeremiah’s exuberance is mirrored in Psalm 118. God’s grace has come to one threatened with death, and the result is vindication beyond all hope of human achieving.

The Second Reading            Acts 10:34-43

Simon the Galilean fisherman would have shunned non-Jews, especially agents of the Roman empire; as Peter the Greek-named apostle, however, he is called by the Spirit to meet the Roman centurion Cornelius to announce the great good news that Jesus is the Lord of absolutely all of us, no matter whom.

The Gospel            John 20:1-18

The Resurrection account in the gospel of John, written after the other gospels, may be the most heartbreaking: not only is Jesus stone cold dead, but his body is missing and Mary Magdalene can only assume that it is stolen. Just imagine her shock when the gardener turns out to be Jesus—and imagine her joy!

 

Ponderables

The word of Jeremiah is not for settled, successful homebodies. It is for people wearied by factionalism, strife, and exile. There should have been no hope of things getting better—except that God has other plans.

The word of the psalmist is not for those who win under their own power. It is for and by people stretched to the limit and beyond. There should have been no hope of rescue—except that God has other plans.

The word of Peter is not for those who profit by division. It is for people too desperate for truth to keep playing by the old rules. There should have been no hope of reconciliation—except that God has other plans.

The word that Jesus speaks is not for the comfortable nor the conventionally pious. It is for those for whom worse has come to worst, who have lost even the cold comfort of performing the last rites for their best dreams. There should have been no hope of new life from death—except that God has other plans.

As we rejoice in Easter, let us not forget those who are exhausted, stressed, wounded by division, or in any kind of grief. If we are not among them right now, we surely will be. More to the point, it is for them that God the Ever-Living and Ever-Loving has other plans.

And is it not up to us, God’s people, to show the world through our love just how true these words are?

For March 31, 2013: Easter Sunday, Year C

The Reading            Isaiah 65:17-25

On Good Friday Jesus died, and hope died with him. Isaiah the prophet wrote at another time when it seemed that hope had died—but Isaiah’s words ring out like great bells to bring us back to hope beyond hope.  Yet even Isaiah’s vision is for long life, not everlasting life.

The Response            Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24

The Second Reading            Acts 10:34-43

The hope that Isaiah sketched out comes to full flower in Jesus Christ. This hope is summarized in today’s reading from Acts, Simon Peter’s first speech to non-Jews: Jesus Christ died for our sins, he is alive, and through him everyone everywhere is acceptable to God. Alleluia!

The Gospel            John 20:1-18

“‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

 

Further thoughts

If there is a unifying theme to today’s readings, it is surely Psalm 118:23: “This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

Isaiah prophesies a time of unprecedented and nearly unthinkable peace and plenty for man and beast: imagine a world in which a cat has a canary to but not for lunch, in which a Walmart worker needs no food stamps, in which no child grows up in a refugee camp, in which long life is crowned by wisdom, not Alzheimer’s.

The psalmist proclaims salvation and righteousness through the Lord—a God who, unlike the classical gods, intervenes in human affairs neither for sport nor spite but rather for mercy’s sake.

The gospel reading tells of unbelievable news become believable: when Jesus’ pierced and tortured body has vanished from the tomb, his followers can only surmise that this apparent body-snatching is yet another horror in a series of horrors—until Jesus, alive, calls Mary by name.

My favorite is the account from Acts. This simple but stirring summary fulfills the promise of Isaiah and the psalmist. Furthermore, consider the messenger.  The Galilean peasant fisherman Simon grew up regarding non-Jews as blue-state intruders on his cozy Galilean red-state mentality, and he almost certainly nursed a remorse hangover through Passover weekend after having denied Jesus three times. Yet here he is, brashness and all, announcing the astonishing news that the God who worked this miracle intends it not just for Israel but for absolutely everybody. If Simon the betrayer can become Peter the rock, what miracle of regeneration might be in store for me?


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