Gospel Reflection for April 17, 2022, Easter Sunday, The Resurrection of the Lord

A small group of women who were disciples of Jesus went to the tomb before sunrise and were terribly frightened and confused by what they encountered there. With the stone rolled away and the tomb empty, all that they could imagine was that the enemies of Jesus committed one final atrocity against him by stealing his body and thereby denying him a proper Jewish burial. Mary Magdalene and the others now made their away across the city to tell the disciples.

Peter and the beloved disciple would have none of this. This same Peter who a mere two days prior had denied even knowing who Jesus is now is the first to enter the empty tomb of Jesus on the day of the Resurrection. Bold and headstrong Peter investigates the tomb and sees the burial clothes strewn about, but he is not quite yet ready to perceive what has taken place. It is the other disciple, who actually arrived at the tomb prior to Peter who “sees and believes.”

We have to wonder what the conversation was like between Peter and the beloved disciple on their way back to the room where the disciples stayed. Did the disciple need to try to convince Peter that Jesus was raised or did Peter also have an insight that perhaps this is what happened. Besides confirming that the tomb was empty what else did they tell the others? Although it follows the passage we hear on this Day of the Resurrection, Mary Magdalene will stay behind and actually encounter the Resurrected Jesus. Next Sunday we will learn more about the events of the rest of that day. But for now, we must ourselves ponder what we learn from the disciples in this moment.

Peter shows us the need for boldness and discovery. He goes in pursuit of the truth as a man of action. He might be slow to understand, not because he is less educated, but because he is a man who views his world through a black and white lens. He always goes for the real and the pragmatic. The beloved disciple is calm. He easily reclined at the table during the Last Supper and found rest with the Lord. While he outruns Peter to the tomb he does not need to get inside to examine what is happening. He understood the meaning of the emptiness of the tomb. We might look at him as the more contemplative disciple, the one whose faith is sure and steady.

Both models of discipleship are still common, along with many variations in between. Each disciple has something to teach us as we grow in understanding Jesus.

Father Garry Koch is pastor of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel.