(based on the Easter Vigil Gospel Mk 16: 1-8)
Well, that wasn’t much of an ending. I’m talking about the end of the gospel we just read, the story of Jesus’ resurrection according to St. Mark. For in this account there’s none of the excitement and suspense we get in the other three gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection – like the violent earthquake in Matthew’s account, or Peter’s race to the tomb in Luke’s account, or the encounter between Jesus and Mary Magdalene in John’s account. It’s safe to say that Mark’s retelling is not very satisfying. What did we hear? Early in the morning 3 women go to the tomb, encounter the angel who tells them Jesus has been raised, and they then run away in fear and say nothing to anyone. That’s it. End of story. And in fact, not only is it the end of the story, it’s the traditional end of his gospel. So it’s kind of hard not to want to say to St. Mark, “That’s it? That’s the end of Jesus’ resurrection story? For that matter, that’s the end of your gospel? What’s the matter? Did you run out of ink? Did your writing quill break? Did you just discover that you had no more pages of papyrus to write on? Come on, there’s got to be more than that!” But according to Mark, that’s it. Just fear and silence and leaving us thinking that something is missing.
But the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that St. Mark had a method in his madness. For St. Mark was using a very unconventional literary technique to get us to realize that the story of Jesus’ resurrection can’t be fully told. Why? Because it isn’t finished. It’s still happening.
Now you may be saying to yourself, “Hey, come on, this was a historical event that took place in Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago. Jesus rose from the dead! We know it! We believe it! It`s over!” Well, actually, it isn`t.
Think about it this way – if all Easter Sunday was about was simply commemorating a historical event that happened 2000 years ago, then our churches wouldn’t have been jammed full on Easter Sundays in the past. And with the attendance restrictions we face during this pandemic, the tickets for this weekend vaporized very quickly. By Monday evening, they were gone. Even though we advertised that our 9 am mass tomorrow would be livestreamed, still so many people wanted to be here.
Why? I believe it’s because everyone here present, or who will be watching online, knows deep down what happened on the very first Easter still matters. Jesus’ resurrection compels us to come together in worship. It’s as though the story of his resurrection reverberates within our Christian DNA. And to be a Christian, as St. Paul says, is to believe in the resurrection of Christ – and all that flows from it.
So what flows from his resurrection? Lots of things. Let me give you four examples.
First, the realization that knowing that not only is this day special, but every day is special, that every day is a gift from God, and even during this pandemic we need to live each day with a hopeful and grace-filled attitude.
Secondly, the realization that our faith is a gift from above, a gift that is meant to be cherished and nurtured and then lived out and generously shared with others.
Thirdly, the realization that what we do now and every Sunday is essential to our faith development. To quote St. Peter, “Lord it is good for us to be here!” – and in fact, we need to be here.
And finally, the realization that yes, our earthly lives will come to an end one day, but that we have nothing to fear, because we believe that Jesus’ victory over death that means that death will not have the final say in our lives, that life will change, not end, when we die.
This Sunday we are here because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago. Some call it the Victory of Christ – but it just wasn’t his victory - it’s a victory he shared – and still shares it with us today. St. Mark was right. The story of Jesus` resurrection isn`t over – it`s still happening in our lives and in the life of the church. And to that we say, Alleluia! Praise God!