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A Scripture Reflection for EASTER SUNDAY

by Gil Ostdiek, O.F.M. | April 1, 2018

A Scripture Reflection for EASTER SUNDAY
April 1, 2018




Acts 10:34A, 37-43

Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23

Colossians 3:1-4 OR I Corinthians 5:6B-8

Sequence: Victimae Paschali Laudes

John 20:1-9



A surprise awaited her. When Mary of Magdala came to Jesus' tomb early that Sunday morning, it was empty. So she ran to tell Peter and John. They too ran to the tomb and found it empty. Burial cloths, but no body. They returned home, not yet understanding the scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.


Today's Gospel passage stops there, but the story does not; it continues in verses 10-18. Mary stayed at the tomb, disconsolate and weeping. "They have taken away my Lord, and I don't know where they laid him," she said to the 'gardener,' just as she had to Peter and John. When Jesus called her by name, her grief dissolved into the overflowing joy of Easter faith. Mission follows. "Go and tell the others." So Mary went and announced to the disciples what she had seen and heard. The first to see the Risen Lord and proclaim the Resurrection, Mary became known as the "Apostle to the Apostles."

She rightly deserves our attention.


What does the experience of Mary of Magdala tell us about our own calling? Her long loyalty to Jesus had brought her to Jerusalem. Her journey began earlier in Galilee, where she became his disciple. When the Risen Lord called her by name, she recognized him as her Teacher, "Rabbouni," the one she and the other disciples had accompanied from Galilee to Jerusalem. There she was among the faithful women who silently witnessed the crucifixion. She visited his tomb on Easter morning, only to find it empty. She had thought he was dead, and now his body was gone. Her loss and grief were compounded by this new shock. "I don't know where they put the body of my Lord." But the Risen Lord was not dead. He appeared to her and sent her on a mission. She became his messenger, sent to announce to the other disciples the good news of his Resurrection.


Mary models for us what following Jesus means. It means being both disciple and missionary. These are not two callings, but one. Pope Francis has said that we should not speak of disciples and missionaries, as though those are separate callings; rather by baptism we are all missionary disciples. Disciples are those called to be sent. Note also that Mary does not abolish the role of the Apostles; she animates it. In John's Gospel, those sent on mission simply pass the baton to others in a grand relay. Or, like the Samaritan woman (John 4), they bring others to Jesus so that they can become his disciples, to be sent to others in turn.


The lesson for us is simple. We are called to be disciples, to follow Jesus in self-giving service to others out of love, in a world of self-serving and hatred. The Church calls this silent proclamation. The good example of Christians who reach out to others in loving service will attract people to ask who inspires them to live in this way. That is the mission, the missionary calling, of everyone baptized. This gives us joy in discovering again, as did Mary, that Jesus is Risen and still lives among us. That we are still charged with the mission of witnessing to the newness of life his Resurrection has pioneered for us.


Today is a day of great joy. We encounter the Risen Lord in word and sacrament, in the people who are his Body, in those in our midst who have been newly baptized into his dying and rising, in those in need around us. Like Mary, we are sent to tell others. That is reason enough to rejoice. Today and throughout the Easter season Eastern Christians exchange a joyful paschal greeting: "Christ is Risen!" "He is Risen indeed!" That is not a casual hello. It is proclamation of the Good News, as our lives must be. As St. Augustine said, "we are an Easter people and 'Alleluia' is our song." Jubilant Alleluias ringing out in our assemblies should echo in our lives. The joy we find in today's Gospel must show itself in mission.



The above image is from the Public Domain.

Author information Gil Ostdiek, O.F.M.

Professor of Liturgy
Director of the Institute for Liturgical Consultants

S.T.L., S.T.D., L.G., Pontifical Athenaeum Antonianum, Rome; Study: Harvard University, University of California

Professor Gil Ostdiek, O.F.M., is a founding faculty member of Catholic Theological Union, an ordained presbyter, and a member of the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart. He holds a B.A. from Quincy College, an S.T.L. and S.T.D. from the Pontificium Athenaeum Antonianum (Rome), and has done post-doctoral studies at Harvard Divinity School and the University of California/GTU.

Gil has been a member of the Association of Consultants for Liturgical Space (ACLS), the Catholic Academy of Liturgy (CAL), the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA), the North American Academy of Liturgy (NAAL), and Societas Liturgica.

He has received a Festschrift [Finding Voice to Give God Praise: Essays in the Many Languages of the Liturgy, ed. Kathleen Hughes (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1998)]; the 1998 Michael Mathis Award for contributions to liturgical renewal, from the Notre Dame Center for Pastoral Liturgy; the 2001 Pax et Bonum Award, from St. Peter’s in Chicago; and the 2007 Georgetown Center for Liturgy Award for outstanding contributions to the liturgical life of the American Church.

Gil has taught liturgy at the graduate level for 45 years and has conducted numerous adult education workshops on liturgy. In addition, he has been Vice President/Academic Dean, MDiv Director, and MA Director at CTU, and he was the founding director of the Institute for Liturgical Consultants (ILC) based at CTU. He served on the International Commission on the Liturgy (ICEL) for fifteen years on the Advisory Committee, on the General Editorial Committee for revision of the Sacramentary, and as chair of the Subcommittee on the Translation and Revision of Texts. He was on the Board of Trustees of Quincy University and his province’s Board of Education. Gil is a past-president of the North American Academy of Liturgy, and he has also been a consultant for the American Franciscan Liturgical Commission.

Gil’s hobbies are woodworking and photography.

More about Gil.

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