These reflections are a result of more than 40 years of ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. Most of these years I spent in the Diocese of Charlotte which covers Western North Carolina. Now I am retired, and live in Medellín, Colombia where I continue to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Medellín.
When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. (Jn 21:9-14)
Breakfast by the Sea is one of my favorite Resurrection appearance stories. It’s an extra chapter that’s been added to the Fourth Gospel. And it is definitely Eucharistic . . . recalling the loaves and fishes story of the Gospel. But how tender the invitation . . . “Come, have breakfast.” All those early morning Eucharists in the church, and it was the Risen Lord inviting us: “Come, have breakfast.”
And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Lk 24:46-48)
We are witnesses of all that Jesus said and did for our salvation. We are witnesses of all these things that have happened in these terrible days of the pandemic. And we will have a message of hope and salvation preached in His name to all the nations.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!! Alleluia, alleluia!!!
And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Lk 24:28-35)
We still know him in the “breaking of the bread.” It is the Risen Lord that speaks the words of Everlasting Life to us as He walks with us on the way.
And the two angels said to Mary of Magdala, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. (Jn 20:13-16)
In the early church, Mary Magdalene was called the “Apostle to the Apostles” and sometimes the “Equal to the Apostles.” She was the first to see the Risen Lord, the first to receive the apostolic mission: Go and Tell. It was Mary Magdalene who went to the tomb, and because she was there the Easter Good News was proclaimed: Go and Tell.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Mt 28:8-10)
The Octave of Easter invites us to celebrate each day this week as Easter Day itself. We see the Risen Lord through the Resurrection Appearance stories to the first disciples, as if we were passing through the hours of that first Easter Day. And to these stories we add our own, because as He promised: “I will be with you always until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).
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. (Jn 20:1)
Mary Magdalene is the first witness to the Resurrection. Which is why the early church always called her, the “Apostle to the Apostles.” She is the one who brings the Good News to Peter and to the Beloved Disciple, and of course to us. In this time of fear, panic and grief, Mary Magdalene still brings us Good News of a Love stronger than death. As the old sequence asks:
Tell us, Mary, what did you see on the way?
And Mary Magdalene answers:
"I saw the tomb of the living Christ and the glory of his rising, The angelic witnesses, the clothes and the shroud. Christ my hope is arisen; into Galilee, he will go before his own."
CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!! ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!!!
O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam that gained for us so great a Redeemer! Most blessed of all nights chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead! —The Exultet
Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” (Mt 28:5-7)
Matthew’s angel gets it done . . . He announces the Good News, and adds, “Behold, I have told you.” And away he goes. Even though we might have a ton of questions . . . the angel doesn’t wait around . . . and neither do the women. They fulfill the mission they received "to go and tell" . . . and along the way they have an encounter with the Risen Lord. Maybe for us too the message is the same: “He is going before you to Galilee—there you will see him.” He always goes ahead us. We just have to keep up with him in all the Gaillees of the world.