Christ’s tomb is depicted in a stained-glass window at St. Patrick Church in Smithtown, N.Y. Easter, the feast of the Resurrection. OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

God's Word on Sunday: My God and your God, my Father and your Father

  • March 28, 2024

Resurrection of the Lord (Year B) March 31 (Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18)

The early followers of Jesus burned with the desire to communicate what they had seen, heard and experienced. If they were from the second or third generations of believers, they were able to rely on the testimony of those who had gone before them.

That is what witnessing means — making the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus believable and relevant to those whom we encounter. They felt a sense of urgency, for they believed that Jesus would soon judge the world. That has not happened yet, but the urgency is still there — much is at stake in our time. One of the reasons that our collective faith seems to be losing steam is that we cannot give what we do not have. If we do not have a personal relationship with the risen Lord, and if we have not experienced the Lord working in our lives, then we have little to offer in the way of witness.

What does it mean to seek the things that are above? Colossians insists that this is the core of the Christian life. Being baptized into Christ and being raised with Him does not mean business as usual but an entirely new way of living. We continue in our lives — work, family, recreation and serving others — but with an entirely new way of thinking and of viewing the world. Human thinking is often very self-oriented and self-contained. We might concern ourselves with relationships and leading a good life, but we still think of ourselves as separate from others and from God.

Seeking the things that are above begins with the recognition that we all come from and belong to God, and all have the divine imprint on their souls. When we treat another with unkindness, disrespect, cruelty or injustice, we have done this to God and ultimately to ourselves. Our economic system and consumerist demands exploit nations, peoples and the environment, but we find it difficult to change our lifestyle and standard of living. The savagery we see unfolding in our world is the manifestation of this principle and there will be no change in the world until there is change within ourselves. Focusing on the things of the Earth involves far more than wealth or material possessions. It includes power, reputation, honours, a sense of superiority over others and a tendency to constantly divide the people of the world and those around us into the sheep and the goats. To truly seek the things that are above means always seeking the common good and the happiness and well-being of others.

Our greatest joy should be easing the burdens of others and giving hope and courage. Finally, yearning for greater understanding and deeper wisdom should keep us always open to learning and when necessary, changing our views. Our journey is not static and rigid, but always flowing and changing.

Mary Magdalene, Peter and the Beloved Disciple were confronted with the shock of the new in a startling way. Mary brought word that the tomb was empty, which brought the two Apostles running to see for themselves. Stepping aside in deference, the Beloved Disciple allowed Peter to enter the tomb first, and sure enough, it was empty. Only then did the Beloved Disciple enter. A great deal of attention was paid to the linen wrappings and the cloth that was used to cover the head of Jesus, which was carefully rolled up and placed to one side. They did not make much of an impression on Peter, but the Beloved Disciple saw and believed.

What exactly did he believe? We are told that they did not yet understand the Scriptures concerning rising from the dead. This was all new territory for them, and they did not know quite what to make of it, but they were open to the experience. They went home, leaving Mary Magdalene to weep at the tomb and finally encounter the risen Christ.

The message that Jesus entrusted to Mary Magdalene explained the purpose and meaning of the Resurrection. “My God and your God; my Father and your Father” says it all.

We are all bound together, children of the Father as well as brothers and sisters of Jesus and of one another. Living in harmony with that proclamation would give us a very different world.