CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 23, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 28:1-10

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel reading comes from the vigil Mass for Easter. There is no Eucharist celebrated during the day on Holy Saturday, and hence, the lectionary does not prescribe a gospel appropriate for Jesus’ time lying in the tomb. The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation and opening to Christian faith. The earliest Christians, as the New Testament establishes over and again, had a complete conviction that the Lord lives and that he was raised in his body. It is this living Lord who transformed them and continues to extend to us the possibility of something new and different and entirely transcendent, full of hope and renewal.

But today, we wait. “Something strange is happening”: a second century homily on Holy Saturday begins with this reflection, both vague and definite. It is unlike any other day because it lacks a precise meaning. After the funeral party has gone home and the dishes are cleared there is a large silence and a boundless emptiness. The old language of relationship has dissolved and the new one has yet to take shape.

In between two ways of knowing we only know clearly that we don’t know. Through unknowing, as through a break in the clouds or a crack in a curtain, a kind of light not seen before promises to emerge. But it is not certain. Nothing is for sure any more.

In these times of living on the edge of two worlds we have only the light of faith, pure consciousness itself. Death is still being digested.

Holy Saturday: Tradition says that the holy souls awaited the Redeemer in the land of the dead. Faith teaches us that the Lord’s redemptive act on the cross reaches out to touch and transform all people of every time — past, present, and future. During his time in the grave, the Tradition tells us that the Lord descended among the dead to meet the souls awaiting the Savior in the land of the dead. His descent among the dead, which was an important theme in the liturgies of former ages (though far less pronounced a theme in our own time), brought to completion the proclamation of the gospel and liberated the souls who had long awaited their Redeemer.

The Tradition suggests that the gates of heaven were now open, and these souls entered everlasting happiness at last to enjoy the vision of the Lord of Spirits and the flesh. This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men and women of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption. An ancient homily of the early Church for Holy Saturday captured this event:

The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and He has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. . . . He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, He has gone to free from sorrow the captives of Adam and Eve, He who is both God and the Son of Eve. . . . “I am your God, who for your sake have become your Son…. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.”

Spiritual reading: Love alone can unite living beings so as to complete and fulfill them… for it alone joins them by what is deepest in themselves. All we need is to imagine our ability to love developing until it embraces the totality of men and the earth. (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.)

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