It’s thanks to Easter that we are Christians. Whereas the joyful birth of Jesus contained a promise, this was fulfilled through His sorrowful Death and glorious Resurrection. This unparalleled event was the ultimate answer to those who had rejected His luminous earthly passage abounding in wise teachings and unprecedented miracles. He who had come to complete the Jewish religion thus founded a new and sublime religion – Christianity – that would be open to the peoples of the world.

The panoply of readings of the Easter Vigil and Mass tells us the story of the redemption of the world. The seven readings[1] from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament are “chosen and structured to lead the worshipping assembly into a deep contemplation of the mystery of salvation history—from the beginning of time, when God created the world in all its wonder, to this moment of the Church gathered in prayer, to the end of time when all things will be brought to perfection once again in God’s love.”[2] In other words, the readings tell of the Redeemer about whom the prophets had long foretold.

The Easter Sunday (morning and evening) Mass offers a different set of Readings, of which the Second Reading and the Gospel have internal choices.[3]

Starting with the Gospel: obviously, it is about the Resurrection! If we read the four Evangelists, we cannot fail to see the multiple differences in their accounts. However, the disparity lies only in the secondary details: while St John (in all probability) wrote a first-hand account, the rest of the Evangelists wrote theirs based on eyewitnesses. Most importantly, none are at variance on the fundamental issue: that the tomb was found without the Lord early on Sunday morning. It was not a desecration; it was undoubtedly the Resurrection!

In fact, those variations only go to show that the Resurrection accounts were not tailored; they were written at different times, between circa AD 66 and 110, in this order: Mark (AD 66-70), Matthew and Luke (AD 85-90), and John (AD 90-110). And even if they had never been written, there would still have been other evidence of the stunning event. St Luke’s Acts of the Apostles was put together between AD 70-90, and Paul’s letters between AD 50-58. Clearly, these latter are the earliest extant texts about the Resurrection, predating the first of the Gospels by over a decade. Would God the Father have allowed the most important event of all of history to go unrecorded?

Very pertinently, the first two Readings are taken from the accounts of those two travelling companions, Luke and Paul, respectively. The text of the Acts (10: 34a, 37-43) refers to the by-now fiery St Peter chastising those who put Jesus to death. “But God raised Him on the third day,” he states, “and made Him manifest, not to all the people but to us, who were chosen by God and witnesses, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.” Faithful to the Divine Master’s command, the future First Pope testifies: “To Him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His Name.”

Even more clinching is St Paul’s testimony relating to the Resurrection. Here is one of Christ’s worst persecutors, whose conversion history is so well known that it can be dispensed with here. In today’s Second Reading (Col 3: 1-4), he most convincedly points to Christ “seated at the right hand of God”, and invites us to set our minds on things that are on high. It is the same Paul who famously said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (Cor 15: 17) He championed Christ’s cause – His physical Resurrection – which prompted Roman emperor Nero to order his beheading.

Let alone dying like Paul, had we only believed more firmly in the Resurrection and spoken more ardently about this turning point in the history of humankind, by now there would have been only Christian apologists walking the earth and no apologetic Christians in sight! After two thousand years of Christianity, can we say we have done enough?

Let us therefore resolve to rise above our frailties – to rise with Christ and live with Him forevermore, with Him who is indeed the Resurrection and the Life!

[1] The Vigil readings for all Year cycles are as follows: Gen 1: 1-2, 2; Gen 22: 1-18; Ex 14: 15-15, 1; Is 54: 5-14; Is 55: 1-11; Bar 3: 9-15, 32 – 1, 4; Ezek 36: 16-28; and at the Mass thereafter: Rom 6: 3-11 [Year A]; Mk 16: 1-7 [Year B], Lk 24: 1-12 [Year C]


[3] The Second Reading can be either from Colossians (3: 1-4) or Corinthians (5: 6-8). And while the first choice of Gospel text is from St John (20: 1-9), one may alternatively take any one of the Gospel texts of the Easter Vigil Mass: Mt 28: 1-10 marked for Year A; Mk 16: 1-7, for Year B; or Lk 24: 1-12, for Year C. The Lectionary also specifies that at evening Mass, Gospel of the Third Sunday of Easter, Year A, may be read.