SR-2019-04-21

SUNDAY MASS READINGS’ REFLECTIONS
Easter Sunday (Cycle A,B,C) – April 21, 2019


CHRIST IS RISEN!

EASTER TIME:
Liturgical Color – White (Stands for light, innocence, purity, joy, triumph, and glory.)
Purpose –
This is the great 50 days of joyful celebration of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead and ending with His sending forth of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Easter Sunday Theme: The Lord Has Indeed Risen.

Today we begin the Easter Season – our 50-day meditation on the mystery of Christ’s Resurrection. All three readings focus on Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead and its meaning for our lives.

“He is risen.” The resurrection of Christ signifies God the Father’s acceptance of Jesus’ atonement for our sins, opens the Gates of Heaven, and thereby makes it possible for us to attain eternal salvation. It is the foundation upon which our faith rests. “The Lamb redeems the sheep. Christ, the innocent One, hath reconciled sinners to the Father.” (CatholicCulture.org)

“When Good Friday comes, these are the moments in life when we feel there’s no hope.
But then Easter comes.”
(Coretta Scott King)


Reading 1 – Acts of the Apostles 10:34a,37-43     Peter preaches about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 118:1-2,16-17,22-23     Rejoice in this day of the Lord.

Reading 2 Colossians 3:1-4     Having been raised by Christ, be concerned with what is above.
or   1 Corinthians 5:6b-8     Let us celebrate this feast with new yeast.

Gospel – John 20:1-9     Mary of Magdala finds that the stone has been removed from Jesus’ tomb.


This Bible Study’s primary references used are from St Joseph Sunday Missal, LoyolaPress.com, CatholicCulture.org, Ascension Catholic Church Sunday Reflections, USCCB, Understanding the Scriptures by Scott Hahn, St Thomas Aquinas’ Works, RSV Oxford Annotated Bible, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, St Charles Borromeo Bible Studies, LUMINA Bible Study, The Franciscans St. Anthony’s Guild, and Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary.

NOTE: The Lectionary Bible Readings for this Sunday – Readings 1 & 2, Responsorial Psalm, and the Gospel, all appear in purple in the following. Footnotes are included in these passages and the contents of all the footnotes appear at the end of this document. 

Reading 1     Acts of the Apostles 10:34a, 37-43                             (Salvation in Christ)

Today’s Reading – This is an excerpt from the last of several sermons of Peter found in Acts. The timing here is that Jesus has already Arisen, spoken to His disciples, Ascended, and the disciples are now “spreading the Word”. What makes this sermon unique is that it reveals that Jesus has come to offer salvation not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles – to all people. In this sermon, Cornelius, a Roman centurion of the Italian Regiment, has had a vision and in this vision an angel has told him to send to Joppa (Jaffa) and summon a man named Simon who is called Peter. About noon the following day, Peter also had a vision about this gentile soldier. Peter travels to Cornelius and once Cornelius recounts his vision, Peter realizes the meaning of his own vision, saying “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts people from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.” Cornelius has been expecting Peter to come and speak with him and so he has called together his relatives and close friends.


Peter proceeded to speak and said: “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John (The Baptist) 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 the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead
[i]. He commissioned us to preach to the people and 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[ii] will receive forgiveness of sins through His Name[iii].”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree.” “The cross of Christ reveals the love of God at its best and the sin of humankind at its worst.” (Anonymous)


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23                      (The Day of the Lord)

This thanksgiving psalm is applied to all the great things God has done in Christ, especially raising Him from the dead.


R. – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
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. – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
“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. – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes
[iv].
R. – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.  


Reading 2     Colossians 3:1-4                       (Seek Heavenly Things)       

Today’s Reading – Paul reminds his readers of their union with Christ through baptism and what that means. The Catholic Church in Vatican II states “By baptism we are grafted into the paschal mystery of Christ; we die with Him and rise with Him”. When we die with Christ in baptism, we put our previous way of life, due to Original Sin, to death and are united to Christ’s resurrection. Consequently, past, present, and future sin can be overcome depending upon our pursuing of a new obedient way of life in Christ.


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[v], and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears[vi], then you too will appear with Him in glory.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Alternate Reading 2     1 Corinthians 5:6b-8                      (Change of Heart)

Today’s Reading – Leaven (yeast) is used as an additive, in minute amount, to dough thereby altering it from its original state by transforming it into something else, i.e. bread. In the Bible, leaven symbolizes, sometimes a good and sometimes a bad, influence upon the believer. The following is an example of a good influence – Matt. 13:33 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” Further, old leaven bread can be used in the same manner as leaven itself, to transform new dough into bread. In the case of bad influences, it symbolizes sin that defiles (contaminates) the believer. In the negative sense, this can symbolize that a sinner (false teacher) can have a negative impact upon another person and /or a whole group of people such as the Church.


Brothers and sisters: Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our Paschal Lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Gospel     John 20:1-9                       (Renewed Faith)

Today’s Reading – Our Gospel today tells us about the disciples’ discovery of the empty tomb. It concludes by telling us that they did not yet understand that Jesus had risen from the dead. Thus, the details provided are not necessarily meant to offer proof of the Resurrection. The details invite us to reflect upon a most amazing gift, that is faith (i.e. obedient belief) in Jesus and His Resurrection.


On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb
[vii]. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to 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.” [viii] 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[ix]. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths[x] 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[xi]. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead [xii].


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         This Gospel passage concludes that even having seen the empty tomb and the burial cloths, Jesus’ followers do not yet understand about the Resurrection. In the passage that follows this reading, Mary of Magdala meets Jesus but mistakes Him for the gardener. In the weeks ahead, the Gospel readings from our liturgy will show us how the disciples came to believe in Jesus’ Resurrection through His appearances to them. Our Easter faith is based on their witness to both the empty tomb and their continuing relationship with Jesus—in His appearances and in His gift of the Holy Spirit.

Catechism 515 – The Gospels were written by men who were among the first to have the faith and wanted to share it with others. Having known in faith who Jesus is, they could see and make others see the traces of His mystery in all His earthly life. From the swaddling clothes of His birth to the vinegar of His Passion and the shroud of His Resurrection, everything in Jesus’ life was a sign of His mystery. His deeds, miracles and words all revealed that “in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” His humanity appeared as “sacrament”, that is, the sign and instrument, of His divinity and of the salvation He brings: what was visible in His earthly life leads to the invisible mystery of His divine Sonship and redemptive mission.

Catechism 651 – “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:4) The Resurrection above all constitutes the confirmation of all Christ’s works and teachings. All truths, even those most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification if Christ by His Resurrection has given the definitive proof of His divine authority, which He had promised.


[i] Reading 1 Footnotes:
Jesus ate and drank with His disciples after He rose from the dead = This signifies a true resurrection from the dead, as a ghost does not eat nor drink.
[ii] Belief in Jesus = Belief here means not just belief in a concept nor just an acceptance of Jesus, but it means a total commitment, obedience, faith, trust, and hope in Him and His teachings.
[iii] By whose authority did Jesus speak? =. Jesus was given full authority by His Father and Jesus, in turn, gave that authority to His apostles and their successors (our Priests). All ambassadors speak in the “name” of the one whom they represent. Remember the old police shows where they would say “Stop in the name of the law”? The policeman was invoking the authority which he represented.
[iv] Responsorial Psalm Footnote:
Jesus as the Cornerstone = Whenever builders construct a stone building, they discard some stones because they do not fit. The Scribes and Pharisees did not believe that Jesus “fit” their idea of a leader and “discarded” Him. But, God had restored Him to “usefulness” and gave Him the position of prominence in God’s work. The cornerstone of a large building is the largest and/or most important stone in the foundation. All the other foundation stones are laid and aligned in reference to this key stone. God made His Son Jesus the cornerstone for of all humanity’s “alignment” into righteousness.
[v] Reading 2 Footnotes:
“For you have died” = In baptism, we “die to sin” (“pass on from our sin”) and are raised in Christ.
[vi] “When Christ your life appears” = At Jesus’ Second Coming, our life is no longer “hidden with Christ in God”.
[vii] Gospel Footnotes:
“Mary of Magdala came to the tomb” = As our Savior had been interred in great haste immediately following His crucifixion, the holy women who had before accompanied Jesus in all His journeys, brought perfumes to embalm His sacred body again, in a manner more proper, than Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea had been able to do before.
[viii] “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put Him.” = In this verse, Mary calls Jesus “Lord”. During His ministry, Jesus’ close associates referred to Him as “Rabbi”, “Master”, and “Teacher”, all rather emotionless titles. But after His crucifixion they refer to His as “Lord”, the centurion called Him “The Son of God” and Thomas, in the Upper Room, called Him “My Lord and My God”! This therefore brings to mind: “To know Him is to love Him, And I do.”
[ix] John waited for Peter before entering the tomb. = No reason is given for John’s remaining outside the tomb. It is assumed that he did not enter because Peter was the leader of the apostles and as such it was his responsibility to lead the investigation, or perhaps John did not enter the tomb because he did not want to violate its sanctity nor incur ritual defilement (i.e. Jewish law about not having contact with a dead body).
[x] Some scholars believe that the presence of the burial cloths in the tomb offers evidence that Jesus’ body had not been stolen (it is understood that grave robbers would have taken the burial cloths together with the body).
[xi] Empty Tomb = Jesus had passed through the grave clothes and through the rocky tomb just as He would later enter the Upper Room when the doors were locked. The angel only opened the tomb to admit the disciples, not to release Jesus.
[xii] “For they did not yet understand the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead.” = Psalm 51:3-4 prophesies this – “Free Me from the net they have set for Me, for You are My refuge. Into Your hands I commend My spirit; You will redeem Me, LORD, God of truth.”. Matthew 12:40 – “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”. Psalm 16:10 – “For You will not leave my soul among the dead or allow Your Godly One to rot in the grave.”. Psalm 30:3 – “You brought Me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept Me from falling into the pit of death.”. Daniel 7:13-14 – “As the visions during the night continued, I saw coming with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man. When He reached the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him, He received dominion, splendor, and kingship; all nations, peoples and tongues will serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass way, His Kingship, One that shall not be destroyed.”.


 

 

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