“Easter is not sufficiently well understood if we think of it only as the time when we reaffirm our belief that Christ rose from the dead. That the historical fact of the resurrection is the keystone of the whole structure of Christian faith is still not sufficient reason why Easter should be the great feast that it is. Easter is not a day to be compared to the Fourth of July although it is in all truth the celebration of our Christian freedom. But this celebration does not merely recall the act by which we are liberated, it revives our freedom itself, in the renewal of the mystery in which we become free.” ~Excerpted from “Seasons of Celebration” by Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO
Easter Monday, March 28 ~ The Octave of Easter
Holy Gospel: Matthew 28:8-15 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.
Meditation: Have you ever asked what the basis is of our faith in the resurrection? The scriptures tell us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”(Hebrews 11:1). Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to us. Our faith is a free assent to the whole truth which God reveals to us through his word. Faith is certain because it is based on the very word of God who cannot lie. Faith also seeks understanding. That is why God enlightens the “eyes of our hearts” that we may know what is the hope to which he has called us (Ephesians 1:18). Peter the Apostle says we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). Through the gift of faith, the Lord reveals himself to those who believe in his word and he fills them with “new life in his Holy Spirit”. Do you live in the joy and hope of the resurrection? And do you recognize the presence of the Risen Lord in his word, in the “breaking of the bread”, and in his church, the body of Christ?
Prayer: O God, who give constant increase to your Church by new offspring, grant that your servants may hold fast in their lives to the Sacrament they have received in faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: Are you always prepared to meet the Risen Lord? The disciples of Jesus were as unprepared for his resurrection as they were for his death. The empty tomb made them fearful and joyful at the same time. “Where did they put the body or did he really rise just as he predicted?” Even though Jesus had spoken to them before of his death and rising, they could not believe until they saw the empty tomb and met the risen Lord. Aren’t we the same? We want to see with our own eyes before we believe! The guards brought their testimony to the chief priests and elders who met the news with denial. They were resolved to not believe that Jesus had risen and they bribed the guards in the hope of keeping others from believing.