First reading: Acts 10:34a,37–43
Peter proceeded to speak and said: “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Second reading: Col. 3:1–4
Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.
Gospel: Jn. 20:1–9
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
In other words Fr. Dionisio M. Miranda, SVD (Divine Word Seminary, Tagaytay City)
Not too long ago, “viral” was a term associated with news bits, usually scandalous, that spread like wildfire across social media. In fact, that is how a virus behaves—it jumps from victim to victim undetected, invading the host’s system unsuspected, and revealing its presence finally in symptoms of excruciating pain. COVID-19 follows that standard process, has proven fatal for approximately 10% of those it afflicts, and brands survivors with aftereffects like loss of smell or taste, persistent fatigue, attention deficits, susceptibility to stroke or heart failure, and others yet unknown. No virus leaves its victim unscathed.
Neither should the personal experience of Jesus leave believers unchanged—except that its “syndromes” differ from witness to witness. The Magdalene had already been emotionally changed by her experience of Jesus’ compassionate acceptance of her aimless sinning and his spirited defense of her against the unkind thoughts of Simon and other Pharisees. The Resurrection added a transcendent layer to her bond, as the first witness and a prime model of fond attachment to the Risen Lord.
Peter’s multiple engagements with Jesus from his first call to his confirmation as leader and seasoning through the Passion were to equip him with the insights and the patterns he would need to shepherd the first Christian community. Across his ministry of leadership we find him at his most transparent: often obtuse in grasping the significance of events, impetuous in his action, for humble whenever reprimanded by the Lord. Even after the Resurrection his limitations persisted; clearly his mission was not meant to be that of intellectual leadership as much as unrelenting fidelity to the will of Jesus that he feed His lambs, a criterion we have learned to expect as the measure of Peter’s ministry and that of his successors.
Because he met Jesus as a young man unlike the older fishermen and other apostles, John could look at Jesus with fewer preconceptions from his tradition and culture, be less partisan to the inner factions within the community of disciples, act less intimidating for threatening to Jesus’ adversaries, and in that sense best qualify to provide protective care for Mary after Jesus’ death. John must have imbibed the same contemplative Spirit of her whoo treasured so many things about her Son in her heart, enabling him to draw unparalleled insights into Jesus’ person, life, and significance shared with us in the Fourth Gospel, especially after the Resurrection.
Jesus expected that belief in him and his message, to be true, must be not less transformative than a virus. But belief, like grace, does not transform your raw psychological nature—whoo we are as the product of our genes, our formation in family, our cultural reflexes, our life and work experiences, our educational enhancements, and the like. Belief, like grace, transforms at the level of character—our worldviews, how we construct our personal narrative, what values and principles we embrace as prime, and the choices we make at defining moments of our lives. How does experience of the Risen Lord impact on our character? How does it indelibly transform as light, or salt, or yeast in our lives as witness to the Word?