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Easter Stories

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

Throughout this week, we will be treated to the "Resurrection Narratives" as the Gospel reading for our celebration of the Eucharist. Each of these stories shows us the various ways that the evangelists responded to the news that Jesus had been raised from the tomb.

Mark, the earliest of the evangelists, tells us that when the women discovered the empty tomb, they ran away and told no one! Of course, in today's manuscripts we find a "redaction." Sometime later, after the first composition of the Gospel, the sacred writer went back and added some information. However, this Gospel tells us exactly how the news was met by the earliest Christians. They were incredulous.

Matthew writes next. His Gospel tells us how the Jewish hierarchy reacted to the news. Predictably, they attempted to keep the story quiet. Remember that Matthew was writing for a Jewish-Christian audience. So he would have been most concerned about how the story was greeted by the Jews. The "cover up" tells us that things haven't changed much in two thousand years. People are still trying to cover up stories that would otherwise "stir up the people." Sadly, we are all too well acquainted with cover ups.

Luke tells us some of the most beautiful stories of the post-Resurrection story. He begins be telling us how depressed the disciples were, how saddened and disappointed they were about the events that led to Jesus' crucifixion. Two of those disciples give up. Cleopas and his wife decided to return to their home in Emmaus. Why stay in Jerusalem? Jesus had been put to death. However, they are met on the way home by someone who changes their depression into joy. Once they realize that the stories they have heard about the empty tomb are true, they hurry back to Jerusalem to share the news with the others. As they tell the story, Jesus appears in their midst. This is the story to which I relate the most. When I am downhearted or saddened, I remember Cleopas and his wife and how their "hearts were burning" as they listened to the stranger who walked with them explain the events of the past few days.

John's account is the last account to be written. The story bears the marks of how the community has reflected on those events for almost seventy years and come to the conclusion that their initial reaction to the story of the Resurrection, told in the Gospel of St. Mark, has grown into a deep faith in the Resurrection. Mary Magdalen, Peter, John, and Thomas represent the various members of the community. Each of them tells a story of coming to faith, some by seeing and others by simply believing.

These stories are the most important part of our Scriptures. The Resurrection of Jesus is the central and foundational truth of our faith. During this weeklong celebration of Easter, we are once again treated to this "smorgasbord," this wonderful buffet of stories of coming to faith, of defeating hopelessness, and of putting away the fear that first gripped the early Christian community when they were greeted with the news of Jesus' resurrection.

He is truly risen, Alleluia!

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