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  Word To Life


Sunday Scripture Readings, April 24, 2011

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service


April 24, Easter Sunday: The Resurrection of the Lord

Cycle A Readings:

1) Acts 10:34a, 37-43

Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23

2) Colossians 3:1-4

Gospel: Matthew 28:1-10

It seemed like the bad news would never end. Fairly recently, our parish community was staggered by several announcements in a single week of one untimely death after another -- a motorcycle accident, a heart attack during the night and a suicide. That same week a teenaged relative of mine died of cancer.

Having departed this life in their prime, these persons left us, their survivors, acutely aware of how unexpectedly death can come, and how fragile is the veil that separates our busy, unreflective lives from the reality of an eternal existence that we can scarcely understand or imagine but which looms near -- perhaps nearer than we think.

For a Christian, this realization is both very comforting and very scary.

Most of us live our lives in a self-imposed bubble that shields us from thinking about our own deaths (at least until we are forced to deal with the death of a loved one). The Scriptures for this Easter feast get to the heart of the matter, "popping the bubble" and stripping away the veil.

Just as the apostle Peter acquaints the household of Cornelius with the facts of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, the church reacquaints us with that same narrative, reminding us that Jesus' story is now our story. In fact, as St. Paul reminds us, we have already died to our old selves. Our lives are hidden indeed, but not by a veil of our own making. They are surrounded by and absorbed into the very life of God.

In the Gospel, the guards at the tomb were so shaken with the fear of their resurrection encounter that they "became like dead men." The women at the tomb, also "fearful," took to heart the words of the angel and also of Jesus, who proclaimed to them, "Do not be afraid!" Fear paralyzed the guards -- but that same fear, transformed into joy, propelled the women into action, as they rushed to share the good news with their brother disciples.

Death is inevitable, and fear is a natural human response to what we don't know or understand. But, as St. Paul reminds us, we have been "raised with Christ" -- and in focusing on "what is above," we truly have nothing to fear.

QUESTIONS:

When has the death of a friend or relative led you to consider your own death? How can you allow the risen Lord to transform your own fears from paralysis into joyful action?

SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:

"For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3).

END



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