After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.  And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.  His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow.  The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men.  Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.  He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. (MT 28:1-6)

My dear friends in Christ,

Mary Magdalene slept fitfully.  In that place between sleep and waking, she was filled with an overwhelming sense of gloom.  Had it been a nightmare?  As she came to consciousness, she realized that her nightmare was reality.  She had been there and had watched helplessly as her beloved Jesus had died the most horrible death.  She didn’t know how she would go on.  He was everything to her.  It seemed that everything in her life that meant anything was gone.  Life as she knew it was completely upended.

Perhaps, she thought, it would bring some comfort to go to the place where he lay.  Along with her companion, she made her way to the tomb where she could grieve over his broken body.  What she experienced instead nearly made her heart stop.   An earthquake.  An angel.  And the words she would never forget:  “Do not be afraid!  I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.  He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.”

This is an Easter we will never forget.  Rather than gathering in a packed church to celebrate the joy of Christ’s resurrection, we share our joyful alleluias via Skype, Zoom or YouTube.  We can easily relate to Mary’s sense that life as she knew it had been upended.  Yet the reality that she discovered at the empty tomb is as true for us as it was on that first Easter morning.  He is risen!  Although we are not together in church and are deprived of the Eucharist, Easter is not cancelled.  Jesus is with us.  During this time when so much has been taken away, we have a chance to realize what is truly precious in life:  our relationship with God and with the people God has called us to love and serve.

On behalf of all of us in the St. John-St. Paul Collaborative, I wish all of you a very happy and blessed Easter. Even in very difficult times, there is cause for rejoicing.  In this season of hope, may we draw close to the One who has drawn so close to us.

Yours in our Risen Lord,
Fr. Jim

He is Risen! A Message from Fr. Jim on Easter Sunday