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Easter, April 4, 2010 (Cycle C)

Scripture Readings
First Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Second Col. 3:1-4 or I Cor 5:6b-8
Gospel Jn 20:1-9 or Lk 24:1-12 or Lk 24:13-35

Prepared by: Fr. Lawrence J. Donohoo, O.P.

1. Subject Matter
• First Reading: Peter’s sermon to Cornelius’ pagan household explains how the resurrection of Christ
fits into God’s ongoing salvific plan for everyone.
• Second Reading: The Christian’s life is mystically defined by Christ’s passion and death for the
present time, and by his resurrection when he appears (Colossians). OR The Christian moral life is
reinterpreted in light of the paschal mystery, from which it receives its meaning and its power (1
Corinthians).
• Gospel: Believing Mary Magdalene’s testimony, the Beloved Disciple explains how he and Peter
came to belief in the midst of their confusion. (John) OR The angels explain to the women not only
the fact but also the meaning of Christ’s resurrection (Luke 24:1-12) OR Cleopas and his friend learn
that the resurrection of Jesus ushers in new forms of his presence in the word of Scriptures, the
Eucharist, and mystical hiddenness (Luke 24:13-35).

2. Exegetical Notes
• Regarding Acts: “Nowhere is the question of tradition vs. Lucan composition raised more acutely than
in this passage, which alters both beginning and end of the mission-discourse schema we came to
know in chaps. 2 and 3. . .In place of the familiar call for repentance comes a kerygma of universal
forgiveness under the auspices of the one appointed judge of the world (vv 342-43), matching the
conclusion of Paul’s speech to Gentile Athenians (17:30-31) and the argument of 1 Thess 1:10.”
(NJBC)
• Regarding Colossians: “Although the resurrection has already taken place, all the conditions of the
end-time are not present. There is still a gap between what is on earth and what is in heaven, and the
fulfillment of the body of Christ is hidden ‘with Christ in God’; but, finally, Christ and the believers
will appear in glory.” (NJBC)
• Regarding John: “For the Fourth Gospel, neither the tomb nor the appearances carry the full meaning
of Easter. Jesus’ mission is completed only in his return to the Father and the glory that he had ‘before
the foundation of the world.’” (NJBC)
• Regarding Luke I: “Luke grounds his insistence on the important role of women in the church’s life in
their commission to be the first proclaimers of Easter faith.” (NJBC)
• Regarding Luke II: “This exquisite story, found only in this Gospel, sparkles with Lucan themes, esp.
those of journey, faith as seeing, and hospitality. . .The two disciples have abandoned the way of Jesus,
for he did not meet their expectations (see v 21). Their infidelity is contrasted with the fidelity of the
women (23:49-24:12). The reader should recall the Lucan theme of journey which was so predominant
as an image for discipleship in 9:51-19:27. This story is shot through with journey language. . .and
narrates how the risen Jesus reconciles two wayfarers, who, once they are forgiven and enlightened,
immediately journey back to Jerusalem.” (NJBC)

3. References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church


• 438 Jesus’ messianic consecration reveals his divine mission, “for the name ‘Christ’ implies ‘he who
anointed’, ‘he who was anointed’ and ‘the very anointing with which he was anointed’. The one who
anointed is the Father, the one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is
the anointing.’ His eternal messianic consecration was revealed during the time of his earthly life at
the moment of his baptism by John, when “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and
with power,” “that he might be revealed to Israel as its Messiah. His works and words will manifest
him as “the Holy One of God.”
• 486 The Father’s only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is “Christ,” that is to
say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation
of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the
disciples. Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and with power.”
• 659 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and
supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys. But during the forty days when he eats
and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled
under the appearance of ordinary humanity. Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of
his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that
time forward at God’s right hand. Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show
himself to Paul “as to one untimely born,” in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.
• 679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men
belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He “acquired” this right by his cross. The Father has given
“all judgment to the Son.” Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in
himself. By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s works,
and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.
• 655 Christ’s Resurrection - and the risen Christ himself is the principle and source of our future
resurrection.
• 1002 Christ will raise us up “on the last day”; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already
risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation
in the death and Resurrection of Christ.
• 1003 United with Christ by Baptism, believers already truly participate in the heavenly life of the risen
Christ, but this life remains “hidden with Christ in God.” The Father has already “raised us up with
him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Nourished with his body in the
Eucharist, we already belong to the Body of Christ. When we rise on the last day we “also will appear
with him in glory.”
• 1420 Through the sacraments of Christian initiation, man receives the new life of Christ. Now we
carry this life “in earthen vessels,” and it remains “hidden with Christ in God.” We are still in our
“earthly tent,” subject to suffering, illness, and death.
• 613 Christ’s death is both the Paschal sacrifice that accomplishes the definitive redemption of men,
through “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” and the sacrifice of the New
Covenant, which restores man to communion with God by reconciling him to God through the “blood
of the covenant, which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
• 2174 Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week.” Because it is the “first day,” the day of
Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the “eighth day” following the sabbath, it
symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection.
• 640 “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” The first element we
encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of
Resurrection; the absence of Christ’s body from the tomb could be explained otherwise. Nonetheless
the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step
toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrection. This was the case, first with the holy women, and
then with Peter. The disciple “whom Jesus loved” affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and
discovered “the linen cloths lying there,” “he saw and believed.” This suggests that he realized from
the empty tomb’s condition that the absence of Jesus’ body could not have been of human doing and
that Jesus had not simply returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus.
• 652 Christ’s Resurrection is the fulfillment of the promises both of the Old Testament and of Jesus
himself during his earthly life. The phrase “in accordance with the Scriptures” indicates that Christ’s
Resurrection fulfilled these predictions.
• 1329 The Breaking of Bread, because Jesus used this rite, part of a Jewish meal when as master of the
table he blessed and distributed the bread, above all at the Last Supper. It is by this action that his
disciples will recognize him after his Resurrection, and it is this expression that the first Christians will
use to designate their Eucharistic assemblies; by doing so they signified that all who eat the one
broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him.

4. Patristic Commentary
• Eusebius: “Peter alone believed the women who said that they had seen angels. As he was of more
ardent feelings than the rest, he anxiously put himself foremost, looking everywhere for the Lord. And
it follows, And stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves.”
• Bede: “And as they spoke of him, the Lord comes near and joins them that he may both influence their
minds with faith in his resurrection and fulfill that which he had promised, Where two or three are
gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of the. As it follows, And it came to pass while
they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.”
• Gregory: Because then he was still a stranger to faith in their hearts, [Jesus] feigned as if he would go
further. By the word fingere we mean to put together or form, and hence formers or preparers of mud
we call figuli. He who was the Truth itself did nothing then by deceit, but exhibited himself in the
body such as he came before them in their minds. But because they could not be strangers to charity,
with whom charity was walking, they invite him as if a stranger to partake of their hospitality.
5. Quotations of Benedict XVI

• “Resurrection means that through the twisted paths of sin and more powerfully than sin God
ultimately says: ‘It is good.’ God speaks his definitive ‘good’ to creation by taking it up to himself and
thus changing it into a permanence beyond all transience.”
• “The most beautiful portrayal of the way we are traveling is offered by Luke in the story of the
disciples going to Emmaus. This is traveling together with Christ the living Word, who interprets for
us the written word, the Bible, and turns that into the path, the path along which our heart starts to turn
and thus our eyes are finally opened. . . .Three things belong together on this path: the fellowship of
the disciples, the Scriptures, and the living presence of Christ.”
• “[T]his journey of the disciples to Emmaus is at the same time a description of the Church—a
description of how knowledge that touches on God grows and deepens. This knowledge becomes a
fellowship with one another; it ends up with the Breaking of Bread, in which man becomes God’s
guest and God becomes man’s host.”
• “Easter becomes the great feast of Baptism, in which man, as it were, enacts the passage through the
Red Sea, emerges from his own existence into communion with Christ and so into communion with all
who belong to Christ. Resurrection builds communion. It creates the new People of God.”
• “And yet God is not totally invisible to us; he does not remain completely inaccessible. God loved us
first. . . .and this love of God has appeared in our midst. He has become visible in as much as he “has
sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 Jn 4:9). God has made himself
visible: in Jesus we are able to see the Father (cf. Jn 14:9). Indeed, God is visible in a number of ways.
In the love-story recounted by the Bible, he comes towards us, he seeks to win our hearts, all the way
to the Last Supper, to the piercing of his heart on the Cross, to his appearances after the Resurrection
and to the great deeds by which, through the activity of the Apostles, he guided the nascent Church
along its path.”

6. Other Considerations

• Just as the first creation was fashioned out of the divine power of order, so the second was fashioned
out of the divine power of obedience. In his humanity Christ asked forgiveness for what we did; in his
divinity he granted it. Yes, the agony of the cross was the proof of Jesus’ obedience and love, but it
was also the proof of his power to forgive. In this way the first task for achieving our salvation was
completed. We needed salvation from God’s justice, and that was given us. But we also needed
salvation from death. We needed resurrection of the body. That is why God begins with Christ. Just as
Christ saved us by an obedience unto death, so the Father saved Christ by a resurrection unto life.
• “The power of the remembered Words of Christ appears in the way that they affect the apostle Peter.
To the other apostles, the women’s story of the encounter with the angels seems like nonsense. But
Peter listens, considers, and then gets up. This ‘getting up’ is itself a resurrectional verb.” (Cameron)
• “Amazingly, the angels offer no new revelation. They simply encourage the women to recall what
Christ has already said to them (Lk 9:22, 44). For Christ’s saving Words, that will not pass away (Lk
21:33), continue to exercise their power on all who live in recollection. . . .The key to this redemptive
remembrance is found in what the women seek: the Body of the Lord Jesus. For Christ’s Body
remains the means for connecting with Christ’s Words and deeds. At the Last Supper, as Jesus takes
the bread, he says: ‘Do this in memory of me’ (Lk 22:19). Coming with their jars of spices, the women
assume that the lifeless body of Jesus will be the only remaining link to the love they once shared with
him. But as they remember Christ’s Words, their faith is awakened.” (Cameron)
• The resurrection of Jesus is the promise that there awaits for us a lasting city, to which now all our
energies and loves should point. It teaches us that our journey to this city is not made alone, that the
resurrected companion who ascended from a mountain goes before us so we too can rise to the Son;
that our journey up the holy mountain is a communal climb, that we are roped together, to those both
near and far, that it is our task and privilege to help others make the grade, especially the struggling
and the straggling, and if one starts to fall the rest must spike the stone, to keep his soul from death,
her eyes from tears, their feet from stumbling.

Recommended Resources
Benedict XVI. Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI. Edited by Peter John Cameron. Yonkers:
Magnificat, 2006.
___________. Deus caritas est.
Brown, Raymond A., Joseph A. Fitzmyer and Roland E. Murphy, eds. The New Jerome Biblical
Commentary. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: 1990.
Cameron, Peter John. To Praise, To Bless, To Preach - Cycle C. Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 2000.
Thomas Aquinas, St. Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels. Works of the Fathers. Vol. 2.
London, 1843. Reprinted by The St. Austin Press, 1997.