1st Reading: Acts 4:13-21
Risking their lives, Peter and John tell what they have seen and heard
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. They said, “What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened.
Responsorial: from Psalm 118
Response: I will give thanks to you, Lord, for you have answered me
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
My strength and my courage is the Lord,
and he has been my saviour.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just. (R./)
The right hand of the Lord is exalted;
the right hand of the Lord has struck with power.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord.
Though the Lord has chastised me,
yet he has not delivered me to death. (R./)
Open to me the gates of justice;
I will enter them and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;
the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my saviour. (R./)
Gospel: Mark 16:9-15
Mark’s summary of well-known resurrection encounters
After Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.
Overcoming obstacles to belief
As the Sanhedrin, Judaism’s ruling body, rejected the notion that Jesus could be the Messiah, so they denied that he had risen from the dead. To believe this would demand a major change in their belief-system, no less than a total reinterpretation of their Scripture and traditions. Yet two Galilean fishermen, Peter and John, stood before the Council insisting that the crucified Jesus was alive again, and now present as a living force for healing and renewal. They made this claim on peril of their lives, in defiance of the Sanhedrin’s formal prohibition. The message was too important to be repressed by any human authority.
The Risen Christ rolled away more stones than the one blocking the entrance of his tomb. He flung wide the doors to the future and offers a glimpse of what lies beyond. The disciples and we ourselves are asked to accept that Jesus really is our Saviour. He throws new light on life and lets us reevaluate all that we held to be true. Are we willing to allow his love to cast its brightness on our minds, so that we shape our future in relation to him. If we trust in our hearts that He has risen, our lives will be energised by this faith.
I guess that, perhaps, we tend more to believing bad news than good news, and we may be even slower than the first disciples to believe the Gospel. Yet every Easter the Lord calls on us to believe that he is risen, with all that this good news implies. We can be inspired by the unbelievably good news that Jesus is alive and that we have a share in his risen life, not only beyond this earthly life but already, here and now.