My Dear Sisters and Brothers in faith! Today we follow Mary of Magdala, Peter and John to a cemetery as well. However what we find there is not a moving memorial. We find an empty tomb.
I grew up on a farm where every spring we were getting excited when hens were sitting on eggs. One year a cousin of mine from the city came. She was joining us on our checking trips to the hen house. One morning she went there on her own and soon she was running back screaming: “Come quickly something horrible has happened. The hen is gone. Her eggs are damaged.” When we checked it for ourselves we were rolling laughing as we could see dry egg shells. Eggs had hatched. We took her on a searching trip around the farm where eventually we found the missing hen with a dozen or so chickens happily going about their business. What we realized was that our cousin had no idea of egg hatching.
Our first reading for this Mass shows us a Roman officer who knew some things about Jesus but Cornelius was like that cousin of mine. He was missing some crucial bits. When Peter came he told the man that Jesus was not simply a clever mentor but that Jesus was killed by crucifying, that after three days he was raised by God and that Jesus was appointed by God to judge everyone, alive or dead.
The parents of that little disabled boy believed that death freed him from his limitations. If today we are in this church it is because we believe that the death and resurrection of this Jesus of Nazareth has freed us from all limitations we are confined to due to our sinfulness. We believe that by accepting with trust the message of the Crucified Lord who was raised to life and glorified at the right hand of his Father in heaven we are given a chance to love and live to the full.
If you read today’s Gospel carefully you can discover that Mary of Magdala visited not only one tomb. That first tomb was empty but the other tomb had some people still alive in it. It was the house where the Apostles gathered. There was a grave atmosphere there. They were depressed, frightened, disappointed, and ashamed. Can you smell death in that room? What did get them out of that deadly mood? It was the message of the empty tomb of Jesus.
My Dear Fellow believers! You don’t need to go to a cemetery to smell death. You can smell death in many beautiful houses where you can find people who, like those Apostles, don’t live life to the full. They are controlled by their fears, selfishness, addictions, destructive desires etc. The Good News of the Crucified, Risen and Glorified Jesus Christ is the hope and remedy for that. Easter is God’s promise of freedom of all limitations stopping us from loving and living to the full.
In the name of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ I tell you: Do not be afraid. Believe Jesus. Trust Jesus. Give your life to Jesus. Then not a monument on your grave but your very life will show that freedom of limitations to love and live to the full. The freedom God provides for those who believe him, who trust him, who surrender their life to him. And when eventually that happy day comes for you to pass over from this life to the next you will hit the ground running in heaven. You will pass over from the life lived to the full here on earth to the life of glory in heaven where God is the satisfaction of all our good desires.