16 April 2017: Easter day

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Acts 10:34a, 37-43 Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23 Col 3:1-4 or
1 Cor 5:6b-8
Jn 20:1-9 or
Mt 28:1-10 or
Lk 24:13-35

Resurrection: signs and faith

Lectionary note
The Lectionary presents two different sets of readings for Easter: the Easter Vigil mass, and the mass of Easter day. This commentary follows the readings for the mass of Easter day.


White_gold_banner_sm The Easter readings bring all of us–neophytes, newly received Catholics, those continuing the RCIA process, those considering Catholicism, and those who have been Catholic for many years–face-to-face with our own discipleship.

The first reading, from Luke’s Acts of the Apostles, gives Peter’s kerygmatic speech to Cornelius and his household. The kerygma is the initial and essential gospel message that introduces a person to Christ and appeals for conversion. Peter’s message includes the resurrection story, the starting point for belief and discipleship.

The second reading, from the letter to the ekklesia in Colossae, is a meditation on a disciple’s baptismal death-and-rising with Christ. Baptism is our first encounter with the risen Jesus and the beginning of discipleship. If we were baptized as infants, we probably don’t remember this meeting or our godparents pledging our discipleship for us. The reading reminds us that, as baptized disciples, we must continually seek what is from above; that is, we must show Jesus to others in our words and actions.

John’s gospel gives us a sketch of three types of faith. During Jesus’ human life, Mary, Peter, and the unnamed disciple all believed in the Jesus they knew. Jesus’ death required them to see and to know him in a different way. When each encounters the empty tomb, each responds differently:

  • Mary is looking for Jesus’ physical body, so she can’t see the empty tomb’s meaning. This is discipleship limited to a Jesus we knew from our past.
  • Peter notices the empty tomb’s details-the linen wrappings, the folded face cloth-but can’t quite grasp what all these details mean. This is discipleship lost in confusion and doubt.
  • The unnamed disciple enters the empty tomb, sees everything, and immediately begins to believe. He understands that God has acted here, but he needs the Holy Spirit’s insight to see the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection. This is discipleship searching for the things from above.

Disciples come to understand and to believe in the resurrection only when they personally encounter the risen and glorified Jesus. First-century disciples met the glorified Jesus in a garden, in an upper room, on the road, and by the sea. They didn’t immediately recognize the resurrected Jesus because he was different from the human Jesus they knew. Only when the glorified Jesus speaks or shares a meal with them do they see it’s him.

It’s the same for us: we encounter the risen Jesus in the Word, in sacraments, and in each other in a garden, on the road, at work, on vacation. We may not recognize him immediately in our family, friends, community, strangers, others. Only a personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus grows our faith and reveals the meaning and promise of the empty tomb. Have we seen him? Do we know him? Do we show him to others?

—Terence Sherlock

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