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Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord's resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
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“Do not be alarmed… He has been raised” (Mk 16:6)
Sunday is dies solus, in the Roman calendar used in ancient Jerusalem, the “day of the sun”. It is the second day of the week in their calendar. For Jews it is the first day, the day after the Sabbath. God created the whole heavens and earth in six days and rested on the Sabbath. The Sabbath, therefore, was a day to be in relationship with God, to be re-created after the work of the week. This is true now with all Sundays, which because of Christ’s resurrection, are now the Sabbath of the new creation he brings.
Easter is also the third day after the death of Jesus, and indeed those who mocked Jesus on the cross remembered that he had said he would destroy the Temple and build it in three days. Jesus had said also told his disciples, Mark tells us on several occasions, that “the Son of Man” would be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, “and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him , and spit upon him, and flog him , and kill him; and after three days he will rise again” (Mk 10:33-34).
We hear in the Gosepl that the day after the Sabbath, the third day, the women -- Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Joseph and James, and Salome -- brought spices and went to the cave, the tomb, where the body of Jesus was laid. He had been buried quickly by Joseph of Arimathea in his own burial cave because the Sabbath was approaching as Jesus was taken down from the cross, and the burial of dead, an action that made one “unclean,” could not take place on the Sabbath.
Imagine their thoughts as they came toward the tomb. Jesus, whom they had come to know and love as a teacher, as a friend, was dead. He had been cruelly murdered by the hated Romans, and even his closest disciples had fled for fear they would also be killed. The oppression and cruelty of the Romans was a daily experience in Judea of that day, and the people longed for a Messiah, the Anointed One of God, the Christ, to come and bring about the Day of the Lord when God’s vengeance would fall upon the Romans, and God’s blessings upon His chosen people, Israel.
Could Jesus have been the Christ as Peter had testified? They had hoped so, and now all hope was gone. It was a depressing day. The Romans had won, and now an insurmountable barrier to change was firmly back in place. Perhaps that was what is meant when Mark tells us the women mused: “Who will roll away the stone for us?” (Mk 16:3).
As they approached the tomb, they looked up and saw the very large stone had been rolled back. Who had done it? Why? They entered the cave tomb and, Mark tells us, found a young man dressed in a white robe sitting where the body of Jesus had been laid. They were alarmed, afraid, what was the meaning of this? The young man told them: “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here!” (Mk 16:6).
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