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.
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.