Acts 10:34, 37-43; Ps 118; Col 3: 1-4 (1 Cor 5:6-8); Jn 20:1-9
The Sabbath has passed; gone are the days of men and women. Here is a new day. It is true, it begins sadly, just as life in our world is often sad, especially when it is standing in front of a tomb. Jesus’ is not special: it is just one tomb in the long line of the tombs of men and women. If anything, there is an extra reason for sadness: not only did a friend’s body end up in that grave, it also marks the end of the hope for a new kingdom that had inflamed that little group of men and women whom Jesus had brought with him from Galilee. If only the world had the courage to stop in front of tombs! It would feel a knot of anguish in its heart, a sense of fear in front of the death of life, hope, and the future. Are we talking about cemeteries? Not only. Today there are entire countries that have become like giant tombs, enormous cemeteries of victims, often innocent, of oppression, violence, and war. In front of this panorama of death, many people flee, as Jesus’ disciples did. Only a few women stop: three, according to Mark’s Gospel. There is Mary Magdalene, a somewhat strange woman who was healed of seven demons. Then there is the other Mary, the mother of James, and then Salome. They are three poor Galilean women, who came to Jerusalem following Jesus. Now, lost after the sad events that had befallen their teacher, they do not know what to do other than to go to his grave. At dawn they are already there, concerned about how to enter the grave. The stone which sealed the tomb is heavy, as heavy as the stones that crush the lives of the poor. But as soon as they arrive, they see that the stone has been rolled away, and they notice an angel, dressed in white, seated to the right. They are taken by fear. But the angel says to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.” It is the Gospel of the resurrection.
It is the first Easter, and it is for a small community of three poor women, foreign and scorned. Once again, it is the fulfilment of what Jesus had said: “The poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.” It is the first Easter. But even if it is only for three poor women, it is not a private affair: it is for all the disciples: “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee.” And from there his disciples were to announce his resurrection to all people to the very ends of the earth. The resurrection is a proclamation that shakes the entire existence of humanity. It shakes it from top to bottom to give it a new face: it removes the heavy stones that weigh on the hearts of men and women to make them free, it illuminates the darkness that surrounds their lives with the clarity of mercy. The one who rises is the one who was crucified. The one who died on the cross is now clothed with the power of God. And the cross, which seemed like the culmination of defeat, has become the power of God in the world. In the iconography of the Churches of the East, often the cross often bears the crucified Jesus on one side and the risen Jesus on the other. In the apparitions it is the crucified one who appears risen, to show his the strength of his love for us: as he was crucified for us, so he has been raised for us.
This is the proclamation that the women receive from the angel of Easter, which causes great joy along with fear. Joy because they sense that Jesus will be able to remain with them, but also fear at finding themselves immersed in the day of God. They flee from the grave. They do not remain standing where they were. A remarkable haste entered them. Yes, we cannot wait in front of the proclamation of the resurrection. There is haste; haste to proclaim freedom to the prisoners of evil, to those buried by wickedness, to those who are slaves of pride and hatred, to those who are crushed by hunger and war. Even three poor women can do it. Precisely these women, scorned and thought of as nothing, were the fist to be sent to proclaim the Gospel of the resurrection. And the disciples are invited to go to Galilee, at the extreme periphery of Israel, near the Gentiles, where Jesus began his mission: there the disciples will encounter the risen Lord, and from here they will set off again on the ways of the world. Galilee is the immense, poor periphery of the world that is waiting for the proclamation of hope; but perhaps it is also the heart of every one of us, which is waiting to see the Lord. “Christ is risen; truly he is risen!”