The last few days I was in Rome attending the meeting of the “Commission on Church in China”. Although it rained a little, the weather in general was sunny. Especially on the way to the airport for my return to Hong Kong, I was able to enjoy how beautiful was the sky without pollution.
“The first day after the Sabbath” should have been such a sunny day. Three days before a scandalous event shook Jerusalem. The prophet who went through cities and villages, preaching “the kingdom of heaven is here” was condemned to death and was crucified.
Did he not heal many sick and help many suffering people? This time he was not able to save himself. His disciples were dispersed. With the help of some good people his poor mother took his wounded body and buried him in a hurry.
It was told that the heavens vindicated him. When he was hanging on the cross the sky darkened and the earth shook. But then all turned quiet again. He really died. He did not speak anymore. His eyes were closed.
Surely some remembered that he said he would rise again on the third day. Should his rising from the dead not equally shake up the whole city? No, he did not announce when and where he would manifest to all people the glory of his resurrection. The whole world is still waiting for that day.
The morning of the first day after the Sabbath he rose quietly. He came to be together with the people he loved and who loved him. Quietly he came to see his mother and embraced her. He let Mary Magdalene, who was searching for him eagerly, to be the first one to find him. He brought peace to the disciples who were ashamed and frightened.
Should he not go to the high priests to assert himself? Should he not demand Pilate to apologize? Should he not give the people an opportunity to show him their repentance? No, this is for the Apostles to do fifty days later. Now is the time for his disciples to quietly enjoy his resurrection.
These fifty days are precious. He recalled to their mind his teachings. They remembered, they understood. Now they truly know him.
John definitely remembered the day when he asked Jesus where he lived. Jesus took him to his home, he saw how modest was the young master and how simple was his life. Later on some disciples were so confounded by the reputation and the miracles of the master that they would even ask to be seated on his left and right when he would be enthroned as king. Now John understood what He said, “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom”. Actually, at the beginning of his ministry, when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and also during the Transfiguration before his Passion, the Father had already indicated, with referrence to the prophecy of Isaiah, that the master was “the suffering servant”, “you should listen to him”.
Peter did not understand how he could forgive his brother seventy-seven times. Now he understood. He denied his master three times but Jesus forgave him. Jesus even confirmed his mission as the head shepherd.
Seeing the wounds of Jesus the disciples understood: Blessed are those who mourn, blessed are those who are persecuted. They understood that salvation did not come from power and strength but from sacrifice and love.
Dear brothers and sisters and especially those who will be baptized this Easer, I believe you will celebrate solemnly the great Pascal mystery with decorations of flowers, candles, sounds of organs and singing of the Alleluia.
But Easter is not just one day. It is not even only eight days. There are forty days from Easter to Ascension and ten days in preparation to Pentecost. These fifty days are all Easter. Let us enjoy quietly these fifty days! Find time to come to Church and sit beside the Easter candle and savour the joy of Our Lady, the apostles and the holy women when Jesus came to be together with them. In the Church, or in your home open the Bible. Let the risen Jesus explain his teaching to us as he did so to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus.
These teachings are not fashionable? All the circonstances challenge our faith? Do not be afraid! Let us listen to the risen Jesus whispering to me, to you, “Peace be with you!”