“The stone was removed from the tomb.” People have wondered about this event for centuries. How was the stone moved? There were soldiers guarding a dead man’s body. They may have fallen asleep, but to move a big stone would have taken some effort and made a commotion and some noise. Another thought there was an earthquake, but if that were so it would have made the news, or at least like when Jesus dies on the cross it is mentioned in the gospel. A third thought is the angel rolled the stone aside. I suppose that could happen. And I surmise the rolling of the stone could have happened quietly. But whatever way you conjecture how this happened I think a more important question is, “Why did the stone have to be rolled away?”
When Jesus was raised, He was given a new body, a body much greater than our human body. In a couple of days, we will hear how He walked through locked doors. I would then think He would be able to walk through stone walls. He would not have to move the stone to leave the tomb. So, why move the stone? So, we could see that the tomb was empty. If Jesus just left, we would have never known that the tomb was empty. We needed the reassurance that the tomb was empty. And when the disciples first saw the empty tomb they did not understand. But Jesus told them many times He would rebuild the temple of His body in three days. It takes us a long time to learn.
Jesus will surprise His followers soon. He will appear to them and they will look with disbelief. This is the same Jesus that walked on water, calmed the storms, changed water into wine, fed thousands with a few loaves and fish, gave life to Lazarus, the widow’s son from Nain, and the little girl. And still today Jesus surprises us. The greatest miracle is when we see Jesus in each other. Through baptism we are children of God. The light of Jesus burns in our hearts. Our Easter celebration should declare to others our belief in the Risen Lord.
We are to share this message. We are to be witnesses to what has happened. And what is the best way to do this? Just as Peter did in the first reading from Acts. He went into the Old Testament to speak the words of what the prophets had said about the Messiah. Nearly every word spoken by Peter can be found in the Old Testament. The lesson we take from this is this: We do not need eyewitnesses to verify the Risen Christ. We need to study the Old Testament to understand who the Messiah is and how Jesus fulfills the prophecies.
This is what brings people to faith. Knowing and understanding the Word of God. Think of how you came to believe. First it was through the words of others. Then over time, as you learned more by attending mass and reading and hearing the Bible, your faith continues to grow. Celebrate the Easter season knowing that Jesus is truly risen.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen