A reading from the Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles is a continuation of Saint Luke’s Gospel—an account of the birth and earliest life of the Church after the resurrection of Jesus. In the passage read today, Peter speaks for the community and recounts the major events in the life of Jesus: his anointing with the Holy Spirit; his ministry of healing; his passion, death, and resurrection; and his reappearance, eating and drinking with the disciples. Peter wants everyone to know that he and the other apostles have been “commissioned” by Jesus to preach the good news and that “everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Imagine how difficult all this had been for Peter and the other apostles. They lost the friend and leader in whom they had placed all their hope. They gave up everything to follow him, and then they lost him to a horrible death. They could have called it quits and returned to their former lives. There were probably many who encouraged them to do so, but they persisted. Why? Because somehow, in ways we cannot understand, they still experienced the presence of Jesus, and they continued to answer his call. Because of those relatively few courageous people, we have a community, a Church today. Let us be thankful for them and let their courage strengthen us during this pandemic which has changed our lives dramatically.
(Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23)
“This is the day the Lord has made: let us be glad and rejoice.” What do you rejoice in every day, even in the midst of this crisis?
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians
The Resurrection is not only something that happened to Jesus two thousand years ago; it is something that we live every day. We were raised with Christ. There is new life for us, not only in eternity but starting now. We can live in the Spirit because the Spirit has been given to each of us. We do not live alone. We live in the Spirit and the Spirit connects us to one another. We are brothers and sisters in the Spirit. Let us rejoice in that, even on this day—especially on this day.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
It is remarkable that, in the deeply patriarchal society of the time, the Gospel reports that a woman was the first person to discover the empty tomb and alert the apostles. It is Mary Magdalene that tells the shocking news to Peter. When Peter and John enter the tomb, they get it. His body was not stolen. Something else has happened. They see and believe. Now, their challenge is to convince the others that they are not out of their minds, that something else had happened that they could not yet explain.
There is no historical account of the resurrection itself. We know that it was not a resuscitation. The physical body of Jesus did die. The risen Jesus was different, but so real that the apostles and many others placed their faith in him, and he in turn gave them—and now gives us—the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our Church, even in the dark moments we share today. It is a matter of faith. It is, in fact, the basis of our faith. Happy Easter! Happy resurrection! Happy new life!
Question for personal reflection or sharing
How does your faith in Jesus Christ, who died but rose to new life, influence your response to the pandemic?
Share this table prayer with those you will eat with today. Pray together:
Christ has risen! Alleluia!
Loving God, you who create all things
and generously give us all we need,
we praise you and thank you for being present with us now
as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, your Son.
Thank you for accompanying us on our Lenten journey;
please be with us during this Easter season, and always,
as we strive to live as disciples of your Son.
May the breaking of bread, today and every day,
remind us of the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ,
who died to atone for our sins
and rose again so that we, too, may rise
and live in your presence forever.
O God, bless this food and we who share it,
and be with those who cannot share it with us.
We ask this in the name of the same Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Alleluia! Christ has risen!
Prayer from Live Lent!-Year A copyright © 2016 RENEW International. All rights reserved.
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.