Lector's Notes

by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading

Peter’s speech is a systematic summary of the gospel:

  • God sent Jesus.
  • He did and said good things.
  • He was killed, then raised to life.
  • We and many other witnesses saw him after his resurrection.
  • He commissioned us to tell everyone about him.
  • He has fulfilled the ancient hopes of Judaism.
  • Grace, life and the forgiveness of sins are yours in him.

End of story..

Second Reading

The point is not to put a fine point on the details. Rather, communicate once again that we’re different because of Christ. Don’t worry about saying how we are different. Just use your voice, with lots of contrasting tones, to make a poetic statement about change. You’re poetic when the way you say things expresses the content of what you’re saying. So a person hearing you read this should have a very different experience from one who simply reads the same words to herself silently.


by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading

This is the apostle Peter’s first speech before an audience of Gentiles. Peter has only recently become convinced that the Gentiles are even part of God’s plan. He summarizes the whole gospel for them.

Second Reading

Saint Paul often writes about how Christ should influence our behavior. This passage is about how our thoughts should change, as a result of the resurrection of Jesus.


Give no introduction to this gospel passage.


Study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Video Lessons on the “four pillars” of the Catechism


Acts 10:34a, 37-43

Peter would go on and give many more speeches including the Areopagus Sermon in Athens depicted above by Raphael, 1515.

Peter’s speech

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

This is an excerpt from the last of several sermons of Peter found in Acts. What makes this sermon unique is that it comes right after the vision Peter has during which God reveals that Jesus has come not only to offer salvation to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles –to all people.

In this sermon, we hear about the scope and spread of the Gospel. The story of Jesus’ baptism, his public ministry, death and Resurrection has been reported all over the land. The power of Jesus’ ministry flows from him being anointed by God with the Holy Spirit. Peter lists himself as a witness to all these wondrous events. Peter concludes by stating that all—through faith and repentance—now have access to the salvation that Jesus has come to bring.

Further Study

In the First Reading, St. Peter begins to move forward God’s divine plan to fulfill the mission Jesus gave the Apostles to carry Jesus’ Gospel of salvation beyond Jerusalem and out into the world (Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15; Acts 1:8). In his homily to a group of Gentile Romans, Peter proclaims the living Christ and preaches the basic Gospel message of the New Covenant Church. He tells them that God the Son died to liberate humanity from bondage to sin and death, and everyone who believes in Jesus and submits to baptism in His name will receive forgiveness of their sins and the hope of eternal life with Jesus Christ in Heaven.

The Basic Gospel Message of the Church

In his homily, Peter proclaims the living Christ and preaches the kerygma, the basic Gospel message of the Church:

  • Jesus was rejected and put to death.
  • God vindicated Christ by raising Him from the dead.
  • The Apostles were commissioned by the glorified Jesus to witness to the Christ-event.
  • Everyone who believes in Jesus will receive forgiveness of their sins through Him.

Peter begins by announcing that the revelation of Israel as God’s chosen people did not mean that He withheld His divine favor from the Gentiles.  Peter tells his Gentile converts that God’s divine plan for the salvation of humanity through Israel culminated in Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Son of God.

By Hanging Him on a Tree (v. 39)

Jesus was put to death by crucifixion, Peter says, using the significant phrase “by hanging him on a tree” (verse 39).  Being “hung on a tree” was the sign of someone who was cursed by God under the Law of Moses (Dt 21:22).

Peter uses the phrase to convey that Jesus, who was without sin, took upon Himself the penalty of the sins of the Old Covenant people and all humanity for the sake of their salvation as an unblemished sin sacrifice (also see references to Dt 21:22 and Jesus’ death in Jn 19:31, Acts 5:30, 13:29, and Gal 3:13).

As St. Paul explained in Galatians 3:13 ~ Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree,” that the blessing of Abraham might be extended to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

This thanksgiving psalm is applied to all the great things God has done in Christ, especially raising him from the dead.

Further Study

Psalm 118 is a hymn of thanksgiving that is the last of the Hallel Psalms (Ps 113-118) sung by the congregation in liturgical worship at the Jerusalem Temple during the eight days of the Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread.

It was Psalm 118:25-26 that the crowd shouted as Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Mt 21:9; Mk 11:9-10; Lk 19:38; Jn 12:13).

Psalm 118 begins by proclaiming God’s enduring, covenant love for His people (verses 1-2). Verses 16-17 speak of “the Lord’s right hand” that has been “lifted high,” which we understand to be Jesus Christ, who, in His Resurrection, has given us new life and victory over death.

Jesus as cornerstone (v. 22)

Jesus is the “stone which the builders” (the religious authorities of the Old Covenant “rejected” only to become the “cornerstone” of our faith (verse 22). Jesus quoted Psalm 118:22-23 when He taught in the Temple on what was Monday of His last week in Jerusalem, applying the verses to Himself in Matthew 21:42.

After Jesus’ Resurrection, St. Peter testified at his trial before the same court that condemned Jesus, that Jesus Christ is the “cornerstone,” and the religious authorities are the “builders” who rejected Him, applying Psalm 118:22 to Christ in Acts 4:11. Peter will quote Psalm 118:22 again, identifying Jesus as “the cornerstone” in 1 Peter 2:7.

St. Paul will also write that Jesus is the “cornerstone” in Romans 9:33 by referring to a related prophecy in Isaiah 28:16b. And in Ephesians 2:19-20, Paul wrote that Christians are part of God’s household … built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone [cornerstone].

Colossians 3:1-4

Easter Vigil Baptisms at St. Gerard Catholic Church in Lansing Michigan.

Mystical death and Resurrection

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

The two alternative second readings declare that the Resurrection is the foundation of new life for those who believe. In the Colossians reading, Paul reminds his readers that through baptism, they had died and have been raised up, and that they should live accordingly. In the Corinthians reading, Paul, using the imagery of yeast, states that because of our new life in Christ, we can make no accommodation to sin.

Further Study

The Sacrament of Baptism

In the Second Reading, St. Paul tells Christians about the implications that Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection have for all who profess belief in God the Son. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we have died to our old sinful selves and are “raised up” out of our baptismal waters to a new life in Christ (also see Rom 5:9-10; Eph 2:5-6).

Christians are reborn through water and the Spirit (Jn 3:3, 5), and by the Spirit’s presence within them, Christians enjoy not only a new life but also a new relationship with God.  They are no longer children in the family of Adam but adopted children in the family of God.  Christians are also heirs through Christ whose suffering they share in their earthly exile, knowing that they will have a share in His glory when they reached the end of their temporal lives or when He returns in glory (Rom 8:14-17; 2 Thes 4:16-17).

New Life in Jesus Remains Hidden

The new life remains hidden while we continue in this temporal world, but it will be realized in its fullness when we join Christ in the life to come.  St. Paul urges us to “think of what is above” or what is to come and to not focus on what is earthly and temporal (Col 3:2).  The risen, living Christ is the source of our salvation, and He has freed us from the false attachments to the material things of this world.  If we continue to only think of the pleasures of the temporal, we will lose sight of what is both glorious and eternal.

John 20:1-9

The Empty Tomb

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Commenting on today’s Gospel, Terence Keegan writes:

In the prologue of John’s Gospel one reads, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (1:5). This image of darkness and light, as also the images death/life and falsehood/ truth, recur throughout the Gospel and lie behind the story of today’s reading. Mary Magdalene comes “while it is still dark” and mistakenly thinks that “the Lord has been taken from the tomb” (20:2). Simon Peter saw the piece of cloth rolled up (20:7); hardly something that anyone stealing the body would have done, but apparently did not know what to make of this strange clue. The other disciple, when he entered, not only saw but also believed. This belief is the first instance of Resurrection faith in John’s Gospel. In the language of the fourth Gospel, faith is the way in which an individual passes from darkness into light, from death to life, from falsehood to truth. Faith does not result from deduction but is a gift from God bestowed in virtue of the triumphant death/ Resurrection of Jesus.

The author is careful to emphasize the extraordinary nature of this faith in the final verse of today’s reading. Only when this gift is received, only when one has entered into the light, does the full meaning of the words of the Old Testament and the mysterious words and deeds of Jesus become clear. Only then does the significance of the rolled up cloth become clear. Today’s story is not about the disciples interpreting the empty tomb, but rather about the initial gift of faith by which one enters into the light, the truth and the life of Jesus’ Resurrection.

Further Study

In the Gospel Reading from the morning Mass, we relive the events surrounding Jesus’ Resurrection as Mary Magdalene and the Apostles Peter and John discover the empty tomb on the “first day of the week” that we call Sunday.

The First Day of the Week

“The first day of the week” for the Jews is the day we call “Sunday” (the seventh-day Sabbath was the only day of the Jewish week that had a name).  It was the “first day” because it was the first day of Creation (Saturday was day #7, therefore day #1 was our Sunday).  Resurrection Sunday becomes the first day of the New Creation in Christ!

According to the schedule of the seven annual Sacred Feasts, it was also the Feast of Firstfruits.  Leviticus 23:5-14 commanded the observance of Firstfruits on the day after the Sabbath of the week of Passover/Unleavened Bread.  This day became the New Covenant Sabbath, the day set aside for humanity to commune with God.  Christians call it the “Lord’s Day,” the day of worship for New Covenant believers.  After Pentecost (which also fell on a Sunday fifty days as the ancients counted after Firstfruits), it became the custom for the New Covenant Church to worship on the first day of the week (see Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10).

As Catholics, we still observe the Old Covenant custom of beginning the next day at sunset; therefore, our Sunday Vigil Mass should take place at sundown on Saturday (unfortunately not always strictly observed).

First Witnesses of the Resurrection

John 20:1 seems to suggest that Mary Magdala was alone, although “the other Mary” (the wife or daughter of Clopas) may have accompanied or followed soon after her (see Mt 28:1).  There may have been two or three groups of women going to the tomb that morning.

The other Gospels list Mary Magdala as one of several women who went to the tomb of Christ on Resurrection Sunday.  Mark 16:1 names the women and Salome (the mother of James and John Zebedee) at the tomb just when the sun “had risen,” or “was rising.”  Luke does not mention how many women went to the tomb only that they went “at the first sign of dawn.”  It may be that Mary Magdalene (perhaps with Mary of Cleopas) went before dawn, and the others came at first light.

See the chart “Harmony of the Gospels: The Resurrection“.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was not present with the other women.  Perhaps it was because she knew He was no longer in the tomb.  Her Son arose from death as God’s Firstfruits of the New Creation on the Jewish Feast of Firstfruits.

Mary from Magdala

The disciple Mary from Magdala, a fishing village on the shores of the Galilee, is a central figure in the story of the Resurrection.  The Gospels mention her by name twelve times (Mt 27:56, 61; 28:1; Mk 15:40, 47; 16:1, 9; Lk 8:2; 24:10; Jn 19:25; 20:1, 18).  She is present at the cross and in the Resurrection accounts.

It is from the Gospel of Luke that we learn Jesus performed an exorcism on her, casting out seven evil spirits (Lk 8:2) before she became one of His women disciples.  Luke also includes the information that she was one of several wealthy women (with Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward, and Susanna) who provided for Jesus and his disciples out of their own resources.

According to some traditions, she is the sinful woman who anointed Jesus at the home of Simon the Pharisee.  However, the identity of that woman as Mary Magdala cannot be confirmed, nor is she ever identified in Scripture as a prostitute.

Reflection Questions

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

1. Turn to the person next to you and share what word/s or image/s in the readings caught your attention. Did they comfort or challenge you or touch you in some way? Which part of the Passion story speaks to you most this year? Why?

2. The apostles were surely surprised by the events of Easter morning. Can you recall a time when God surprised you?

3.Easter is the victory of life over death, of light over darkness, of goodness over evil. Can you recall a Good Friday event in your life from which good and blessing came?

4.What is the challenge of Easter for you?

Call to Action

Name one way you can act on today’s readings. Suggestions: Seek to be more aware that God’s plan is to always draw goodness out of the painful experiences of life. Seek to be an Easter presence for someone going through a Good Friday experience.

Shared Prayer

Pray for those going through a Good Friday experience. Pray that you can be a sign of hope for people dealing with pain. Pray that our Risen Lord may touch the hearts of Catholics who only go to church at Easter, that they may be drawn back to the Lord’s Table.

Closing Prayer

Blessed are you, Father for raising your beloved Son, Jesus from the dead and bringing us to faith in his saving death and Resurrection. Give us a taste of the joy that filled the hearts of the first disciples,and help us to trust in the lifethat is promised through faith in him. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.


Video by Larry Broding. Visit Word-Sunday.com website for detailed commentary and other resources regarding the readings for this Sunday.

The meaning of the resurrection

Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ Preaches for Easter

“[While growing up], it was very much for me an individualistic thing. It meant that one day I was going to die, but me, Helen, my ego was going to come through intact. Then I’d be in heaven somewhere in glory. But I’m just basically not going to change drastically, I’m just going to be me… an individualistic approach to religion. But over the years, as the community has reflected, we have moved away from that individualistic conception of resurrection and the afterlife into one of personal transformation, of being able to move past our ego and our selfishness into a state of love and into a state of community.”


Introduction to Easter Sunday readings

EXCERPT — What does it take to believe in the Resurrection? Many might respond saying, “If we had only been there.” If we had found the empty tomb, how would we have responded? As today’s Gospel reveals, all we have in this story is the account of reactions to that tomb, which changed people’s lives both then and now. Some who saw it believed that Jesus had risen. On this day, we rejoice and we ponder the blessings of this astounding mystery.


The emptiness of Easter

EXCERPT – Easter is certainly a joyful feast. But the beginning of Easter is emptiness. There is not a gospel writer who tells the story of Easter by beginning with the risen Christ. Every gospel writer begins with the empty tomb. The gospel we just heard from Matthew proves this point. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary come. But what they first see is not Jesus but the empty tomb, and they hear the angel’s announcement. Only then do they encounter the risen Christ and embrace him… Whatever your emptiness is, do not deny it—claim it. Emptiness is not a liability. It is an opportunity. When we claim our emptiness we own our dependence on God. When we claim our need we open the door to Easter. The Risen Christ calls us to new life. Let us stand before him today in our emptiness and let his resurrection in.


Experiencing the Risen Christ moves us to belief

EXCERPT – Christ is truly risen from the dead, my brother and sisters in Christ. But we have not seen with our own eyes this historic and spiritual Truth. It comes to us by faith, believing what has been handed down to us from Jesus and His Apostles by the Church. Faith is a gift from God; and the Gospel tells us that one person saw the empty tomb and believed (John 20:8); this was “the disciple that Jesus loved.” But it isn’t the disappearance of the body – the empty tomb – that moved the other disciples to believe in Jesus’ resurrection. I’m sure that Mary Magdalene and Peter had more questions than ever before, when they saw that empty tomb. It was only when they and many other disciples actually saw the Risen Christ that they were moved to true belief.

MASS HOMILIESDeacon Joseph Pasquella (Confraternity of Penitents)

The women were more faithful than the men

EXCERPT — The women were the first to believe in the Good News of the resurrection (Mt 28:9-10; Lk 24:4-11; Jn 20:11-18). Faced with the news of Mary Magdalene, who sees the empty tomb, Peter and the beloved disciple run to the tomb. The Gospel relates the strange news according to which “the other disciple” ran faster than Peter and arrived first at the tomb, but did not go in. He looked inside and saw the bandages on the ground. After he went in he saw also the folded shroud to one side. The Gospel then says, “He saw and believed!” But nothing is said of Peter’s reaction although it was he who had gone first into the empty tomb. At the end, the Gospel adds, “Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that He must rise from the dead” (Jn 20:9). This means that the Old Testament on its own does not communicate a complete understanding of what it contains. The light for understanding the real meaning of the Old Testament appears at the very moment when the beloved disciple “saw and believed”. His experience of the resurrection was like a light that struck the eyes of the disciples and revealed to them the complete and full meaning of the Old Testament. It is this light to the sight that liberates the words of the Old Testament.

THE ORDER OF CARMELITESLectio Divina: Sundays of Lent

It’s OK to be confused, broken-hearted, and afraid

EXCERPT — The Easter Sunday Gospel is, at best, a half-story. Hearing it is like listening to a 4-year-old report on his day: lots of details, little plot and not much of a conclusion…John tells us this confusing Easter morning story to crack open our certainties — our logic and law — and to assure us that it’s OK to be confused, broken-hearted, afraid and ready to bury all hope. John is teaching that we’re not going to understand the resurrection until we fully face the tragedy of the evil that seems powerful enough to break us.


Can we believe in the Resurrection without understanding it?

EXCERPT — Happy Easter! Christ is risen! Easter is the most important day of our liturgical year. Today we celebrate Jesus’ willingness to die for our sins and his victory over death. Jesus’ resurrection is a foundational Christian belief. But, what if you believe in the resurrection but don’t understand it? You are not alone. The Gospels reveal the very human responses to this mystery of faith: confusion, fear and sadness that eventually give way to awe and belief.



EXCERPT — Jesus entered the deeps of death, a plunge he need not have made had he not loved us in our sorry state. But he went to death with a “yes,” with the utter trust of Abraham, the constancy of Moses, the bright reliance of Isaiah. In Easter’s vigil, we plunge with him: “Are you not aware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Being like him through likeness to his death, so shall we be through a like resurrection.”

SUNDAY WEB SITEFather John Kavanaugh, SJ

God’s love prevails

EXCERPT (2017)— Jesus, God’s only Son and humanity’s most beautiful boast, truly experienced death — as we all will — but through the power of God’s love, death’s grip is broken and Jesus lives. We believe we all will share in the triumph of Christ’s victory over death. That is surely the message of the three Gospel accounts we hear today. It is in John’s account of Mary Magdalene rushing to tell Peter and the beloved disciple that the tomb was empty, and when they run to see for themselves, they find the burial cloths carefully rolled up and the tomb empty. This is not a scene of chaos or defeat but of quiet victory.

2020 Reflections

CHICAGO CATHOLICFather Donald Senior, CP


Visit Doctrinal Homily Outlines for further commentary and catechetical connections.

“By using the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the homilist can help his people integrate the word of God, the faith of the Church, the moral demands of the Gospel, and their personal and liturgical spirituality.”

From the Homiletic Directory

CCC 638-655, 989, 1001-1002: the Resurrection of Christ and our resurrection
CCC 647, 1167-1170, 1243, 1287: Easter, the Lord’s Day

Paragraph 2. On the Third Day He Rose from the Dead

638 “We bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this day he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus.”489 The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross:

Christ is risen from the dead!
Dying, he conquered death;
To the dead, he has given life.


639 The mystery of Christ’s resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness. In about A.D. 56 St. Paul could already write to the Corinthians: “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. . .”491 The Apostle speaks here of the living tradition of the Resurrection which he had learned after his conversion at the gates of Damascus.492

The empty tomb

640 “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”493 The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ’s body from the tomb could be explained otherwise.494 Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrection. This was the case, first with the holy women, and then with Peter.495 The disciple “whom Jesus loved” affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and discovered “the linen cloths lying there”, “he saw and believed”.496 This suggests that he realized from the empty tomb’s condition that the absence of Jesus’ body could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus.497

The appearances of the Risen One

641 Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One.498 Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ’s Resurrection for the apostles themselves.499 They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers,500 and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that the community exclaims: “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”501

642 Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles – and Peter in particular – in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning. As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary “witnesses to his Resurrection”, but they are not the only ones – Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles.502

643 Given all these testimonies, Christ’s Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples’ faith was drastically put to the test by their master’s Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold.503 The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized (“looking sad”504) and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an “idle tale”.505 When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, “he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.”506

644 Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. “In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering.”507 Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord’s last appearance in Galilee “some doubted.”508 Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles’ faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.

The condition of Christ’s risen humanity

645 By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion.509 Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm.510 For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.511

646 Christ’s Resurrection was not a return to earthly life, as was the case with the raisings from the dead that he had performed before Easter: Jairus’ daughter, the young man of Naim, Lazarus. These actions were miraculous events, but the persons miraculously raised returned by Jesus’ power to ordinary earthly life. At some particular moment they would die again. Christ’s Resurrection is essentially different. In his risen body he passes from the state of death to another life beyond time and space. At Jesus’ Resurrection his body is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit: he shares the divine life in his glorious state, so that St. Paul can say that Christ is “the man of heaven”.512

The Resurrection as transcendent event

647 O truly blessed Night, sings the Exultet of the Easter Vigil, which alone deserved to know the time and the hour when Christ rose from the realm of the dead!513 But no one was an eyewitness to Christ’s Resurrection and no evangelist describes it. No one can say how it came about physically. Still less was its innermost essence, his passing over to another life, perceptible to the senses. Although the Resurrection was an historical event that could be verified by the sign of the empty tomb and by the reality of the apostles’ encounters with the risen Christ, still it remains at the very heart of the mystery of faith as something that transcends and surpasses history. This is why the risen Christ does not reveal himself to the world, but to his disciples, “to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.”514


648 Christ’s Resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God himself in creation and history. In it the three divine persons act together as one, and manifest their own proper characteristics. The Father’s power “raised up” Christ his Son and by doing so perfectly introduced his Son’s humanity, including his body, into the Trinity. Jesus is conclusively revealed as “Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead”.515 St. Paul insists on the manifestation of God’s power516 through the working of the Spirit who gave life to Jesus’ dead humanity and called it to the glorious state of Lordship.

649 As for the Son, he effects his own Resurrection by virtue of his divine power. Jesus announces that the Son of man will have to suffer much, die, and then rise.517 Elsewhere he affirms explicitly: “I lay down my life, that I may take it again. . . I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”518 “We believe that Jesus died and rose again.”519

650 The Fathers contemplate the Resurrection from the perspective of the divine person of Christ who remained united to his soul and body, even when these were separated from each other by death: “By the unity of the divine nature, which remains present in each of the two components of man, these are reunited. For as death is produced by the separation of the human components, so Resurrection is achieved by the union of the two.”520


651 “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”521 The Resurrection above all constitutes the confirmation of all Christ’s works and teachings. All truths, even those most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification if Christ by his Resurrection has given the definitive proof of his divine authority, which he had promised.

652 Christ’s Resurrection is the fulfillment of the promises both of the Old Testament and of Jesus himself during his earthly life.522 The phrase “in accordance with the Scriptures”523 indicates that Christ’s Resurrection fulfilled these predictions.

653 The truth of Jesus’ divinity is confirmed by his Resurrection. He had said: “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he.”524 The Resurrection of the crucified one shows that he was truly “I AM”, the Son of God and God himself. So St. Paul could declare to the Jews: “What God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.'”525 Christ’s Resurrection is closely linked to the Incarnation of God’s Son, and is its fulfillment in accordance with God’s eternal plan.

654 The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life is above all justification that reinstates us in God’s grace, “so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”526 Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace.527 It brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ’s brethren, as Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: “Go and tell my brethren.”528 We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection.

655 Finally, Christ’s Resurrection – and the risen Christ himself is the principle and source of our future resurrection: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. . . For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”529 The risen Christ lives in the hearts of his faithful while they await that fulfillment . In Christ, Christians “have tasted. . . the powers of the age to come”530 and their lives are swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life, so that they may “live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”531

989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day.534 Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.535

1001 When? Definitively “at the last day,” “at the end of the world.”557 Indeed, the resurrection of the dead is closely associated with Christ’s Parousia:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.558

Risen with Christ

1002 Christ will raise us up “on the last day”; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ:

And you were buried with him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead . . . . If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.559

1167 Sunday is the pre-eminent day for the liturgical assembly, when the faithful gather “to listen to the word of God and take part in the Eucharist, thus calling to mind the Passion, Resurrection, and glory of the Lord Jesus, and giving thanks to God who ‘has begotten them again, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ unto a living hope”:40

When we ponder, O Christ, the marvels accomplished on this day, the Sunday of your holy resurrection, we say: “Blessed is Sunday, for on it began creation . . . the world’s salvation . . . the renewal of the human race. . . . On Sunday heaven and earth rejoiced and the whole universe was filled with light. Blessed is Sunday, for on it were opened the gates of paradise so that Adam and all the exiles might enter it without fear.41

The liturgical year

1168 Beginning with the Easter Triduum as its source of light, the new age of the Resurrection fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance. Gradually, on either side of this source, the year is transfigured by the liturgy. It really is a “year of the Lord’s favor.”42 The economy of salvation is at work within the framework of time, but since its fulfillment in the Passover of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the culmination of history is anticipated “as a foretaste,” and the kingdom of God enters into our time.

1169 Therefore Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the “Feast of feasts,” the “Solemnity of solemnities,” just as the Eucharist is the “Sacrament of sacraments” (the Great Sacrament). St. Athanasius calls Easter “the Great Sunday”43 and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week “the Great Week.” The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him.

1170 At the Council of Nicaea in 325, all the Churches agreed that Easter, the Christian Passover, should be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon (14 Nisan) after the vernal equinox. Because of the different methods of calculating the 14th day of the month of Nisan, the date of Easter in the Western and Eastern Churches is not always the same. For this reason, the Churches are currently seeking an agreement in order once again to celebrate the day of the Lord’s Resurrection on a common date.

Fr. Tobin Commentary Text: ©2019 Fr. Eamon Tobin, Commentaries & Faith Sharing PDF Handout. Images, videos, scripture verses, and other material which accompany Fr. Tobin’s text are curated by LectioTube.com. They do not necessarily reflect Fr. Tobin’s opinions or preferences. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission.
Agape Bible Study excerpts by Michal E. Hunt are used with permission. In addition to the website’s 54 studies and hundreds of resources, their Facebook page has short lessons on the day’s Gospel reading.
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