O blessed day of the Resurrection, which of old time was called the Queen of Festivals, and raised among Christians an anxious, nay contentious diligence duly to honour it! Blessed day, once only passed in sorrow, when the Lord actually rose, and the disciples believed not; but ever since a day of joy to the faith and love of the Church! In ancient times, Christians all over the world began it with a morning salutation. Each man said to his neighbour, “Christ is risen;” and his neighbour answered him, “Christ is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon.”
(St John Henry Newman)
Christ is Risen!
He had said He would rise, but not one of those who went to the tomb that first Easter morning expected it. When they found the stone rolled away, they all sought for other, worldly explanations. Even the devoted Magdalene thought “they” had taken the body. The explanation had been given to them all in advance; none had believed. They had been blind. Even as Mary Magdalen explained to the “gardener” their plight, she could not see Him. Then He called her by her name – and she knew, calling him “Rabboni.” Then she went and told the disciples.
In Jewish law the unsupported word of a woman was not admissable as proof, and yet it was Mary to whom Jesus first revealed the miracle of His resurrection, and even she knew it first only when He spoke her name. Her darkness, and then that of the Disciples was banished by the Light of the World. The world would never be the same again. Those same men and women who had been fearful for their own lives would go out and many would lose them in the service of the Risen Christ.
As Saul of Tarsus, who after encountering the Risen Lord became Paul, the last of the Apostles reminded the Corinthians:
2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
So vital is this message that St Paul declares: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” The whole of our faith rests upon the events of that first Easter Sunday.
Today is an Easter Sunday like no other most of us will have experienced. Deprived of the comforts of the Easter Vigil, and of the community of others this Sunday morning, we can, instead, contemplate the Risen Lord and feed on Him in our hearts with thanksgiving. The chains of death are broken.
On this day of days, when the darkness of sin was banished and the light of God has triumphed over it, may we be renewed in Him, and He in us, and may we bear witness to the hope we have been given. We are saved through His blood. We have followed Him through the path to Calvary, and we have stood with Him watching from afar at Golgotha, now may we rise with Him. He is Risen – He is Risen Indeed!