John 20:1-9
'A New Creation in Christ' by Rev. John De Celles
Cycle A
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"

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John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him."  So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.  They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.  When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.  Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.  For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

How many of us have known someone who had all sorts of talent, and yet seemed to let it go to waste.  There is something terribly sad about a human being failing to live up to his or her potential.

Unfortunately measuring one's potential is often reduced to such mundane standards as "success," or "fun."  But what makes a Michelangelo fresco what it is, is not that millions of people go to see it, but that it's made by its artist in such a way that it is capable of drawing us into its beauty.  And what makes human beings what we are is that we are created by the Divine Artist to love a life greater and more joyful than all the success and fun in the world.

The book of Genesis makes clear that God created man to share in His life - God's life of perfect love and happiness.  Genesis, however, also tells us that man - in Adam and Eve - rejected the life God had given him and instead chose to lead a life according to his own desires.

But God's will cannot be denied so easily.  So in the fullness of time God sent His only Son into the world to restore man to the life he was created for.  As St. Paul tells us, in Christ, there "is a new creation."

And Jesus came to bring mankind not only life, but "life in abundance" - life that is all that it can be.  He does this first through the words and actions of His earthly life,  a life of perfect union with the Father, a life perfectly free from the disobedient sins of Adam and his descendants.  And he brings this life of love to its culmination by obediently accepting death on a cross, saying "not my will Father, but your will be done."

But the cross is not the end of the story, as He tells us, (I must) "lay down my life, that I may take it up again."  On Easter we rejoice because Christ has conquered death - he has risen and transformed, fulfilled and glorified human life, completely lifting up human life into the midst of the eternal and perfect life in the love of God.

This is the fullness of life in abundance that Christ came to bring to us.  In this world, we can begin to share in this life by living as He lived, keeping His commandments, which show us how to love God and our neighbor.  And in this we can begin to live up to the potential that is promised to us in our creation, given to us in our baptism, and fulfilled in our death and resurrection with Christ into eternal life.

In today's Gospel we're presented with a person who understood all this in a profoundly personal way - Mary Magdalene, a woman who lived a life dominated by sin, a life that had lost all hope and joy, wasting its potential to live in God's love.  But then Christ entered her life, and it was changed forever.  In Him she was re-created into a new life full of potential in Christ.  And it is this repentant Mary Magdalene who is the first to encounter the Risen Christ, the first to behold the perfection of human potential for a life of joy, happiness and peace.

On Easter the yearning in our hearts to fulfill our true potential is answered, as we join the Magdalene in celebrating the invitation and grace to become all that we were created to be.  To live the life that is not only good, but perfect: the life of Christ crucified and resurrected.

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