Reflecting on the Empty Tomb

April 3, 2021

For Lent this year, we have asked eight sisters and associates to reflect on the Beatitudes and offer ways in which we may embrace these blessings in our own Lenten journeys. There will be additional reflections published for Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and Easter.

By Sister Rosario R. Maulas

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” (Psalm 118:24)

Yes, indeed, today is a day of rejoicing, for today is the day Jesus has risen from the dead!

The Gospel on this Easter Sunday (John 20:1–9) tells us about the disciples’ discovery of the empty tomb. It concludes by telling us that they did not yet understand that Jesus had risen from the dead. The details invite us to reflect upon a most amazing gift, that is, faith in Jesus and his resurrection.

A joyful image celebrating Easter and the empty tomb
For the Sisters of Mercy 2021 Lenten blog series, artist and writer Sister Renee Yann created images to evoke the spirit of the Beatitudes and the blessed journey of Lent, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Click here to read how she describes her inspiration.

As I reflect on the empty tomb, for me it is a sign of new life, a new beginning, for everything is being emptied. It means dying to my old self and starting a new life. A life of wholeness and holiness. A life that is Christ- and other-centered. 

When I prepared this Easter reflection, it brought me back to the experience of being a temporary professed sister, during my mission immersion with the Itinerant Redemptorist Mission Team (RMTI) in the mountainous and remote areas of my country, the Philippines. My mission community was made up of indigenous people and settlers (those migrated from other places in the country) who had come to live in that area. Most were farmers and economically poor. I stayed for three months and became a part of their community in the daily events of their lives: the sharing of food, praying together, faith sharing and celebrating the liturgy, the Word of God.

The most memorable and life-giving experience that I had there was the culmination of the mission immersion when we celebrated the Easter Vigil. We made a pilgrimage by foot to the parish church, 18 kilometers away, to participate in the celebration. Every time we passed a community, they would join us, so the number of pilgrims increased. We arrived at the church around 5 o’clock in the afternoon with our lighted torches. While we walked, we prayed the holy rosary and sang Marian songs. The number of participants gathered was around 700.

It was so touching to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with a community of believers in my mission area. It was like a journey to the promised land, with the unconditional love of God, His protection from all forms of danger and His presence in the life of the Israelites, as we heard in the Easter vigil readings.

Although there is always suffering in this life—as in the global pandemic we are experiencing today—the resurrection of Jesus Christ brings us faith and hope that this crisis will soon end. And that we, too, will experience the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

To end my reflection, I would like to quote this homily by Father Antony Kadavil, preaching on Easter Sunday 2018:

Easter is a feast which gives us hope and encouragement. In this world of pain, sorrows and tears, Easter reminds us that life is worth living. It is our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in our souls, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament and in Heaven that gives meaning to our personal, as well as to our common, prayers. Our trust in the all-pervading presence of the Risen Lord gives us strength to fight against temptations and freedom from unnecessary worries and fears.

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  1. Fran Repka

    What a moving reflection of God’s unconditional love on this Easter Vigil. Thank you, Rosario

  2. Renee Yann

    Dear Sister Rosario,
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience, your deep faith, and the faith of your community. It was a blessing to share in your Easter memory on this Holy Saturday morning.

  3. Rita Valade RSM

    Thank you Rosie… beautiful reflection. I love your insight about the empty tomb: starting new/emptying out. Blessings on our “starting new’ in “Oneness” of our Institute.

  4. S. Patricia Pora

    Thank you, s. Rosario! You illustrate powerfully how the faith of others and community can nourish our own faith,

  5. Cynthia Serjak

    Thank you so much for this lovely reflection. I love “everything is being emptied.” And at the same time, everything is being filled to overflowing. Such a mystery!

  6. Maxine Rojo

    Thank you so much for your meaningful reflection. It resonated with me.

  7. Mary Daly RSM

    Thank you, Rosario. You paint a picture of faith and community.

  8. Mary Ellen Twist, RSM

    Thank you, Rosie, your mission experience must have been wonderful. Thank you for sharing your reflections.

  9. Philip Anthony Casoria Sr.

    Happy Easter to All, I agree that Easter reminds us that Life is worth living among all the mess that sounds us!

  10. Lori Pinkerton

    Beautiful reflection Sr. Rosario. Happy Easter to you!

  11. Mary Ann Clifford

    Thank you Rosie for sharing this beautiful and enduring memory.
    Mary Ann

  12. Christine (McMaster) Dietsch

    This was a wonderful reflection, thank you!

  13. Katie Mindling

    Thank you so much for this beautiful reflection. What draws me so deeply into your meditation is the image you described of gathering people together with you as you made your journey along the 15 km stretch and all arriving together to the celebration of the Easter Liturgy.

  14. Rita Parks

    Thank you, Rosario, for inviting us into your memory of a remembered Easter Vigil. What a beautiful testimony to our common journey as the People of God. Happy Easter!

  15. Kathleen McAlpin

    Dear Rosario, Thank you so much for your meaningful message of the Resurrection. Your life-giving experience was a beautiful reflection of life among the people of God. Easter blessings, Kathleen

  16. Pauline Reynolds

    These meditations have been inspiring. Thank you for publishing them. Love the Alleluia art.

  17. Sr. Helen E. Libo-on, RSM

    Thank you so much Sr. Rosie for sharing your faith experience with the indigenous peoples of our country. We also remember them these days since they are the most neglected people… May the Risen Lord bring healing to them.

  18. Sharon Kirsch

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful reflection. All the reflections have been very meaningful adding much to my Lenten Journey.