At empty tomb, disciples recall Jesus’ words, Bishop tells Princeton parish

April 1, 2024 at 11:10 a.m.
A packed congregation gathers for Easter Sunday Mass in St. Paul Church, Princeton. Hal Brown photo
A packed congregation gathers for Easter Sunday Mass in St. Paul Church, Princeton. Hal Brown photo (Hal BROWN)

By EMMALEE ITALIA
Contributing Editor

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., reminded Catholics at St. Paul Parish just how memorable the words of Jesus were, foretelling his Resurrection.

“You know, words are powerful; once uttered or written or read, some words are never forgotten … each year at this time, as spring makes its presence felt in new life all around us, we ‘remember his words,’” the bishop said during two Easter morning Masses at the Princeton parish March 31.

PHOTO GALLERY: Easter Sunday in St. Paul Church, Princeton

Father Christopher Dayton, parish administrator, concelebrated the Masses and thanked Bishop O’Connell on behalf of the St. Paul community.

“Bishop said I could sleep in this morning, since he would be here — but I wasn’t going to fail that test,” he quipped before the packed church. “We are truly grateful he is here with us today.”

Bishop O’Connell emphasized how clearly the words of Jesus returned to his disciples’ minds after he rose from the dead.

“Today we read from John’s Gospel, but all four Gospel accounts describe the women coming to the tomb but finding it empty,” he said. “We can be sure a thousand thoughts raced through their confused and frightened minds in an instant as they peered into the burial space to see the funeral cloths lying there. … They had to be reminded by an angel or two of what Jesus himself had foretold before his death on Good Friday. ‘And they remembered his words.’”

The shock of that discovery, the Bishop noted, must have taken some time to sink in.

“When we find ourselves in situations we did not expect, our minds rarely grasp what has happened right away,” he said. “That first Easter Sunday morning at the tomb was just such an occasion. … They arrived to mourn and anoint Jesus’ body, because they couldn’t anoint it after the Crucifixion … and it was not there.”

That realization, he continued, has been told and re-told, sung and proclaimed, for more than 2,000 years, and that story is powerful not only because of the one telling it, “although in Jesus’ case, no greater or more powerful source of words could be identified.”

“It is, in the end, the power of truth that makes words prevail,” the Bishop emphasized, “a power beyond any attempt on our part to give it expression in words. The truth of Jesus’ rising from the dead … is far greater and more convincing than any words we could come up with.”

Despite not having adequate means of expression, Christians still feel compelled to shout, he said, referring to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: “Jesus Christ is risen! Christ, once raised from the dead, shall never die again; death has no power over him. His death was a death to sin, once and for all, and his life is for God.”

“He speaks his word to us once more this Easter: a word of triumph, a word of victory, a word of life,” Bishop O’Connell said. “The truth and the power of his words shatter the darkness of death and give rise to the bright promise of eternal life. My friends, Jesus’ promise is offered to us … simply an invitation to believe in his truth. And that belief, that Easter faith changes us, changes our lives forever, because it changed the world forever. … Today, we celebrate the greatest day the world has ever known.”

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.


Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., reminded Catholics at St. Paul Parish just how memorable the words of Jesus were, foretelling his Resurrection.

“You know, words are powerful; once uttered or written or read, some words are never forgotten … each year at this time, as spring makes its presence felt in new life all around us, we ‘remember his words,’” the bishop said during two Easter morning Masses at the Princeton parish March 31.

PHOTO GALLERY: Easter Sunday in St. Paul Church, Princeton

Father Christopher Dayton, parish administrator, concelebrated the Masses and thanked Bishop O’Connell on behalf of the St. Paul community.

“Bishop said I could sleep in this morning, since he would be here — but I wasn’t going to fail that test,” he quipped before the packed church. “We are truly grateful he is here with us today.”

Bishop O’Connell emphasized how clearly the words of Jesus returned to his disciples’ minds after he rose from the dead.

“Today we read from John’s Gospel, but all four Gospel accounts describe the women coming to the tomb but finding it empty,” he said. “We can be sure a thousand thoughts raced through their confused and frightened minds in an instant as they peered into the burial space to see the funeral cloths lying there. … They had to be reminded by an angel or two of what Jesus himself had foretold before his death on Good Friday. ‘And they remembered his words.’”

The shock of that discovery, the Bishop noted, must have taken some time to sink in.

“When we find ourselves in situations we did not expect, our minds rarely grasp what has happened right away,” he said. “That first Easter Sunday morning at the tomb was just such an occasion. … They arrived to mourn and anoint Jesus’ body, because they couldn’t anoint it after the Crucifixion … and it was not there.”

That realization, he continued, has been told and re-told, sung and proclaimed, for more than 2,000 years, and that story is powerful not only because of the one telling it, “although in Jesus’ case, no greater or more powerful source of words could be identified.”

“It is, in the end, the power of truth that makes words prevail,” the Bishop emphasized, “a power beyond any attempt on our part to give it expression in words. The truth of Jesus’ rising from the dead … is far greater and more convincing than any words we could come up with.”

Despite not having adequate means of expression, Christians still feel compelled to shout, he said, referring to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: “Jesus Christ is risen! Christ, once raised from the dead, shall never die again; death has no power over him. His death was a death to sin, once and for all, and his life is for God.”

“He speaks his word to us once more this Easter: a word of triumph, a word of victory, a word of life,” Bishop O’Connell said. “The truth and the power of his words shatter the darkness of death and give rise to the bright promise of eternal life. My friends, Jesus’ promise is offered to us … simply an invitation to believe in his truth. And that belief, that Easter faith changes us, changes our lives forever, because it changed the world forever. … Today, we celebrate the greatest day the world has ever known.”

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.

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