The Easter morning gospel begins by stating that “it was the first day of the week”, or rather, the “Day One.” Not a day “within a series” of days, not the first of a second or a third, but actually a day a day which is unique, the excellent day, the day of a NEW CREATION.
This is the day that speaks of a new beginning, of a Love that unifies those who are dissimilar, unequal; the day that brings about the ‘marriage’ intended by Mercy: God raises the creation and each of us to a new, glorious and holy existential level.
This ‘Day One’, highlighted by the evangelists on the day of Jesus’ Resurrection, takes us back to the language of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, in which, on ‘Day One’, describes the creation of Light. And this is how we can read the spiritual meaning of the world, of History, and of our own history: from these “light-filled beginnings” willed by God.
Our beginning and our future are Light! Light inaugurated the work of creation, at the beginning of everything, and Light is also inaugurating the work of the New Creation, begun today, on this “Day One,” on this first day of the week. And likewise our final destiny is Light: our future is the glory of the Heavenly Jerusalem, the Holy and Eternal City, whose everlasting Light will be the Victorious Lamb of God, Wounded and Glorious.
However, even though this Day One wants to take us back to the Light of a radiant morning, it is strange that the biblical text mentions that there was darkness. “Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark.”
All of a sudden, the reference to the book of ‘Song of Songs’ becomes evident: the bride spends the night searching for her Beloved. Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb in an atmosphere of expectation, her heart was aflame with love, searching for her Lord.
However, even though her love was generous and overflowing, it had not yet reached a “paschal/easter maturity”, because for her, the stone that had rolled away from the tomb wasn’t yet speaking of “life” and light, but of “death” and darkness, for she still thinks that someone has taken her Lord away from there.
Mary had not yet realized that the stone rolled away by force of “a love stronger, more tenacious than death.” Henceforth the Sorrowful Cross is a Glorious Cross and the Dark Tomb is a Luminous Tomb; sinners (we) have their (our) heavenly destiny reopened, forever.
The Love of the Bridegroom conquered, overcame death. That dark night gave way to light. So, God transports our humanity to a new level of existence. We, who thought death was the end, now discover that it is only a passage to a destiny of resurrection and glory, for Christ has crossed that bridge of New Life for us, to open that gateway for us.
And in response to Mary Magdalene’s news – “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him” – Peter and the other disciple immediately begin to run through very busy and dangerous places: such as the marketplace and the Praetorium. But they didn’t care, they take the risk, because they no longer think of themselves, they just run, they just walk ahead.
We see Peter and “that disciple whose name is not expressly mentioned”, so that each one of us can identify ourselves there: each one of us is this “John”, this paschal disciple, who has in his heart and feet a love like that of Christ: capable of facing danger, because he no longer fears for himself.
The beloved disciple is someone who reasons according to Love. That is why Tradition “pictures” him reclining on the Master’s chest at the Last Supper, He reasons from his heart, from the same burning Love with which he is loved.
And it is this Love of the Beloved disciple that “arrives first” at the tomb and sees the sheets on the floor, fallen, as if the Body of the Lord had “evaporated”. The burial cloths were folded in the same way that the thalamus was prepared, which is a wedding bed, a bridal bed.
And this is very meaningful, because when Jesus was buried, Joseph of Arimathea embalmed the Lord’s dead body – and the cloths that wrapped it – with a huge, a massive amount of myrrh and aloes, which are scents not commonly used for a dead person, but rather for perfuming the clothes of a Bridegroom.
With this excess of fragrances, Joseph of Arimathea displays the “fulfillment of love”: the nuptials, the spiritual marriage with Christ, the Bridegroom.
The text from John’s gospel doesn’t speak of the customary bandages that cover the dead, but speaks of ‘otonia’, which is actually a long “marriage sheet”, 13 feet long. And it is in such a sheet that Jesus is wrapped. His Body then rises, without moving the sheet, which falls to the ground, remaining there, in the tomb, as if it were on a bed prepared for a wedding.
So we talked about a recreating light, the Song of Songs, Mary Magdalene and her spousal tenderness, John, the beloved disciple, as a “fearless friend” and the bridal symbolism of the Gospel. Actually, all of this brings us into an atmosphere of extreme, passionate and absolute love.
This love is the key that allows us to contemplate that Christ entered into a “new existence” for us, on our behalf, to make us partakers of it. Actually, He shows us the destiny of a humanity that goes through the Extreme Love of the Cross: it is glorified, it enters the divine sphere. Cross and Glory: bound together.
This is the life that the Risen One challenges us to live: a life with an Easter style, a life lived as “self-giving”. This is the lifestyle that leads us towards the Sanctuary of the Father!
And here, in the Eucharist, our whole life becomes an offering, through Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ. He takes on our whole being, He fills it with Himself and makes it what it was created to be: love, spousal love, communion with God.
Fr. Cristiano Pinheiro C. Bedê
Shalom Catholic Community
New York, April 4thl, 2021 – Easter Sunday