When the Word is proclaimed, it is real and active – the Lord is present, and what is described is, in a sense, happening now. On certain days this is made more obvious by the selection of scripture that refers to a particular time or day. Such a selection occurs this morning, when we go with Mary Magdalene to visit the tomb, only to make – with her – a momentous discovery: the tomb is empty, he is risen!
Notes for Readers
First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 10:34-43
This is the first of many readings from this book in our Easter Season. The context of this passage is that Peter has been invited to address the household of the Roman centurion Cornelius: Cornelius was not a Jew, but was a just and good man, who had a vision telling him to invite Peter to his home. Peter arrives and Cornelius, after describing his vision, says, “You have been kind enough to come. Here we all are, assembled in front of you to hear what message God has given you for us.” So Peter is in the situation of introducing this man and his household to faith in Jesus Christ – Cornelius knows nothing of the Gospel message. So Peter gives the discourse you read on this day. This is a testimony – an eye-witness account – and should be read with great personal conviction, especially from the words, “Now I, and those with me, can witness to everything he did…” Peter is giving the Good News as he has received it to Cornelius, who is thirsty for it. You too, as the proclaimer, must give this Good News on this holy day to those listening to you: not by “tub-thumping” or high-blown oratory, but by your quiet confidence in the truth and importance of what you are reading.
Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4
A short reading – but full of power. It’s definitely a “morning-after” sort of reading: the morning after Baptism and the Renewal of Baptism. There is a “here and now” truth about it. The first sentence emphasises this: “Since YOU have been brought back to true life with Christ (in Baptism), YOU must (now) look for the things that are in heaven…” where the ‘you’ is the Sunday congregation. The phrase “you have died” is an explicit reference to Baptism – see the New Testament reading at the Easter Vigil. The final line is a wonderful promise: because it is addressed to us all today, it is worth practising so that you can look up at the people ar you say: “… you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.” Really make everyone think about what this means!
Alternative Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
This reading is more subtle: again it is about baptism, but less explicitly, referring rather to the change which baptism implies. This is explained by the image of yeast – by baptism (and its annual renewal) we rid ourselves of the old yeast and become a beautiful fresh, new batch of unleavened bread (a lively reference to the Passover feast which makes us think of the Last Supper, the sacrifice of the Lord on the cross and the Mass). Be careful that people catch the image – if they miss the word “yeast”, this whole reading will be lost! Take it slowly and carefully. Emphasise the words “celebrate the feast” and “sincerity and truth.”