One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

April 21, 2006

For Easter Saturday

Mark 16:9-15

Today the Gospel summarizes for us the day of the resurrection, beginning early in the day with Mary Magdalene, and ending at table with the eleven surviving apostles.
In the Gospel of Mark, we see Mary Magdalene just a few times.
The first two times the Gospel just names Mary Magdalene as one who was there on Good Friday: first at the cross and then at the tomb.
The Gospel doesn’t tell us anything about her except that she was there on Good Friday.
Then we meet her on Easter— today in the Gospel.
It’s odd that today— Easter— the Gospel chooses to add its first and only biographical tidbit about her: that she was the one who used to have seven demons until the Lord drove them out.
Why tell us that now and only now?
Is her multi-demonic past supposed to be why the apostles did not believe her when she told them the Lord had risen and showed himself to her?
Then again, is the Gospel trying to tell us that even those who have demonic biographies can be the first in line to meet the risen Lord?
In fact, in the Gospel of Mark, demons are the first ones and almost the only ones who know just who Jesus is: “the Holy One of God.”
What about the apostles?
In the Gospel of Mark, they’re the ones who often get it wrong in following Jesus and understanding his teachings.
The apostles today in the Gospel reject the testimony of Mary Magdalene.
Then they reject also the testimony of two other disciples who report seeing the risen Lord out in the countryside.
Finally, the Holy One of God comes to the apostles themselves.
He doesn’t take the eleven to task for abandoning him and running away on Holy Thursday.
The first and the important thing for him is not that the eleven had deserted him, but that they hardheartedly refused to believe those who had already seen him risen.
He scolds the eleven for that.
Then, he tells the eleven to take a turn telling the human race they’ve seen him.
It’s now their turn to meet the disbelief and hardheartedness of others.
Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.

So, here we are.
There are more than eleven of us now.
Our testimony is still sandwiched between our own unbelief and hardness of heart and the whole world’s unbelief and hardness of heart.
This situation is the same one the first eleven were in when the risen Lord appeared to them at table.
Though our doubts and hearts be hard, in a few moments, the Risen Holy One of God is going to break open his heart for us here at his altar and pour out for us his blood.
He still dares to entrust that much to us.
Even to that we dare to testify.

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The Preface for this Mass (the “Easter Perspective” on the Liturgy of the Eucharist)

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We praise you with greater joy than ever on this Easter day, when Christ became our paschal sacrifice. He is the true Lamb who took away the sins of the world. By dying he destroyed our death; by rising he restored our life. And so, with all the choirs of angels in heaven we proclaim your glory and join in their unending hymn of praise: Holy, holy, holy....

That God Be Glorified in All


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