Visiting the graveyard is not usually an attractive exercise because it presents an eerie and unsettling atmosphere that reminds one of the realities of death and dying. It could only be someone who is out of touch with mental and spiritual sanity that would like to loiter and lounge around the tombs (Mark 5:1-5). People go to the graveyard to pray and bury the dead. Today, the Gospel narrative presents one of the most unusual reasons for a visit to the cemetery; just to see the tomb very early in the morning when one could see scarcely one’s palms.
The Gospel Reading (Matt. 28:1-10) tells us about Mary Magdalene who came to the tomb very early in the morning with the other Mary (it is probable that she is the mother of Cleopas) to see the grave. Could it be that they forgot what it looked like? (We can’t say from the narrative).
Furthermore, coming very early in the morning to the tomb gives a sign of urgency. We could infer from the story that the early morning tomb visitors slept briefly, or did not sleep at all through the night. However, we need to make it clear here that they were not interested in the tomb but the one inside the tomb. Moreover, there was no better day for them to come but at the wee hours of the THIRD DAY.
Here we could identify the duo as women of faith. They came early on the third day because they believed in the words of our Lord: “Destroy this temple, and on the third day I will raise it up (John 2:19)”. They trusted and accepted the word of our Lord Jesus in the Gospel of Luke (9:22):
“The Son of Man must suffer many things, He said. “He must be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Leaving their families very early that morning of the first day to visit the tomb reminds us of the call to discipleship which involves “leaving everything and following him” (Luke 5:11, 28). We need to leave everything and follow the Lord if we must find meaning in life. Those who follow the Lord never miss their way.
These two women came to witness the live resurrection of our Lord Jesus; though they came few minutes after the actual rising. They did believe that the tomb cannot hold the Lord. They believed that the darkness of Good Friday would give way to the light of Easter. The trusted in the power of the resurrection.
Coming to the site of our Lord’s burial they saw an empty tomb; what does this disclose to us? The Lord has risen from the dead, and our faith is meaningful; we have something to preach and believe (1 Cor.15:14-18). The tomb is empty because the risen Lord has set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). The tomb is empty because God has delivered us from darkness and translated us into the kingdom of His beloved son.
The tomb is empty because we are now a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart to declare the mighty acts of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1Pet.2:9). The tomb could not stop him. The empty tomb declares that our lives have been redeemed and purified from the works of darkness and sin (Titus 2:14). The empty tomb reminds us of our Lord’s self-emptying (Phil. 2:7) which brought about our in-filling with good things (Psalm 107:9).
The empty tomb demonstrates the empty works of the devil and his promises. The empty tomb shows that without God in our lives we are cut off and can do nothing (John 15:5). The empty tomb shows that the words of our Lord on the Cross is real: “it is finished” (John 19:30). That means he has paid our debts and we do not owe anymore. So, as he said to the women (Matt.28:10), the Lord is telling us today “do not to be afraid.”
A critical mind would wonder why the angel at the graveyard and our Lord Jesus Christ himself could send the women to inform the disciples to meet him up in Galilee. “Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there they will see me.” Why Galilee as a location for meeting the risen Lord?
Galilee is very central in the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. The visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary announcing the coming of the Savior through the Virgin birth took place in Nazareth; the most insignificant towns in Galilee “where no good thing could come” (John 1:43-46). Most of the apostles got their vocation around the Galilee region including the fishermen that became fishers of men (Matt.4:18-22). Most of the outstanding teachings and miracles of our Lord took place in Galilee. In fact, Galilee could be said to be the maternal home of the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, the need to anchor the resurrection narrative where the story began.
Going to Galilee has to do with going back to the roots to bear witness and testify to the fact and power of the resurrection. This witnessing is what we see Peter doing in the First Reading today. In his testimony, he began by tracing the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ back to Galilee where he went about doing good, healing those oppressed by the devil and God was with him.
In Galilee, it will become evident that the one whom they knew very well and who eventually died on the cross and was buried; has risen. In Galilee, it will become very lucid that the one who changed water into wine (John 2:1-11) has come back from the dead to life.
Today we are invited to enter our own Galilee of testimony. We should be able to bear witness to the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, not just by words but also by our actions. We are challenged by this invitation to Galilee to live a resurrected life.
We are all called today to head to Galilee to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus not just by physical feasting but by our spiritual communion with the Lord. For this reason, St. Paul enjoys us in the Second Reading (Col.3:1-4) that if we are raised with Christ, we should seek what is above, where Christ is sea1ted at the right hand of God.
May the resurrection of our Lord bring about the emptying of our physical and spiritual burdens. May the resurrection of our Lord open the doorway to our Galilee of witnessing by our words and actions.
Happy Easter and may the days ahead become steps towards your elevation.
2 responses to “LESSONS FROM THE EMPTY TOMB AND THE INVITATION TO GALILEE: HOMILY FOR EASTER SUNDAY (YEAR A) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.”
Thanking God for the resurrection power. “If not but for God” Glory to God Halleluya,Halleluya!
Thank you Jesus.
Amen.Thank you Lord,for we believe it is done