Octave of Easter, Monday
1st Reading: Acts 2:14, 22-33
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven and, with a loud voice, addressed them, “Fellow Jews and all foreigners now staying in Jerusalem, listen to what I have to say.
Fellow Israelites, listen to what I am going to tell you about Jesus of Nazareth. God accredited him and through him did powerful deeds and wonders and signs in your midst, as you well know. You delivered him to sinners to be crucified and killed, and in this way the purpose of God from all times was fulfilled. But God raised him to life and released him from the pain of death, because it was impossible for him to be held in the power of death. David spoke of him when he said: I saw the Lord before me at all times; he is by my side, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; my body too will live in hope. Because you will not forsake me in the abode of the dead, nor allow your Holy One to experience corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life, and your presence will fill me with joy.
Friends, I don’t need to prove that the patriarch David died and was buried; his tomb is with us to this day. But he knew that God had sworn to him that one of his descendants would sit upon his throne and, as he was a prophet, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah. So he said that he would not be left in the region of the dead, nor would his body experience corruption.
This Messiah is Jesus and we are all witnesses that God raised him to life. He has been exalted at God’s right side and the Father has entrusted the Holy Spirit to him; this Spirit he has just poured upon us as you now see and hear.
Gospel: Matthew 28:8-15
The women left the tomb at once in holy fear, yet with great joy, and they ran to tell the news to the disciples.
Suddenly, Jesus met them on the way and said, “Peace.” The women approached him, embraced his feet and worshiped him. But Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to set out for Galilee; there they will see me.”
While the women were on their way, the guards returned to the city and some of them reported to the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests met with the Jewish authorities and decided to give the soldiers a good sum of money, with this instruction, “Say that his disciples came by night while you were asleep, and stole the body of Jesus. If Pilate comes to know of this, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers accepted the money and did as they were told. This story has circulated among the Jews until this day.
Jesus was utterly defeated. He was a man of immense gifts. He had the will and the way to bring about some radical changes. He chose a dozen helpers, but they were uneducated men apparently all suited to the task, and when the pressure was on, they buckled. He ended up quite alone, a victim of the politicians and power groups whose noses he had tweaked a few times too often. They got him crucified. That was the end of that. A pity, rally, the whole thing… he had such talent…
The Resurrection is the most resounding “But” of all time. When all the usual calculations of expediency and plain common sense have been completed, when the wisdom of the Greeks has had its say, God’s “But” resounds through the ages. Evil has not been victorious; from the worst that human beings can do came the most glorious of all God’s works. We are not free to be pessimists; that would be a denial of the Resurrection, an apostasy from the Faith we profess.
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