I know that now for many Easter is over. Well that’s it then for another year but I love going to Mass this week because every day we have the great readings of the Resurrection. Previously I have taken them one by one, but this time I have tried to view them as a whole, an unfolding acceptance that Christ is risen.
First, on Monday, the women “filled with awe and great joy” meet Jesus. “Do not be afraid,” He tells them. For many, perhaps most, this is myth or legend but equally the story concocted by the chief priests by which soldiers are bribed to say Jesus’s body has been stolen by his disciples can be viewed as myth and legend. Darkness against light, lies against truth.
The Cathedral is beautiful, bedecked with white and yellow flowers, the vestments white and gold.
Then on Tuesday, Mary Magdalene “stayed outside near the tomb, weeping,” and fails to recognise Jesus till he calls her name, as we fail still, constantly, to recognise him. Whenever I think of this passage, I see Titian’s painting, ‘Noli Me Tangere’ (below).
But it is Wednesday’s reading – Jesus’s encounter on the road to Emmaus – which usually reduces me to tears. “It is nearly evening, they said, and the day is almost over… He took the bread… then He broke it… and their eyes were opened.” If there was any Gospel reading I would like read at my funeral it is that one.
I heard the Wednesday Mass with a young priest, a small gathering locally, five or six of us. There is something particularly beautiful about a new utterly committed young priest giving Mass to a small gathering, in the simplest of services. You feel closer to the beginning.
Then on Thursday, Jesus suddenly appears to all the disciples. I suppose an atheist will try to explain the Resurrection through a misunderstanding, surely all these people cannot have been lying or be deluded or perhaps, they say, he never died, but he is alive yet transfigured, different, appearing suddenly and vanishing; and finally on Friday another beautiful reading when Christ appears by the lakeside. “It is the Lord. … Come and have breakfast.”
And then in Saturday’s reading, Mark, short and to the point as usual sums it all up.