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Archbishop Follo: From Life to Life, Here, Now and Forever

With the invitation to pass with Christ from the agony of the Cross to the joy of the Resurrection, from the labor of life to peace of Life.

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April 21st, 2019
Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord. – Year C
Roman Rite
Acts 10:3 4A,37-43; Ps 118; Col 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-9
Ambrosian Rite
Acts 1:1-8A; Ps 117: 1Cor 15:3-10A; Jn 20:11-18
1  Christ is alive.
 Christ is risen.
His life did not end on Good Friday and the dedication and love of God for us did not end when Christ was killed on the Cross.
From the life that men thought to have removed and buried in a sepulcher, the incarnate and crucified Love has passed over to Life. Holy Saturday, the day of human desolation and of God’s silence, opens to the day of the risen Lord.
The passage from today’s Gospel thus begins: «On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala went to the tomb in the morning, when it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. Then she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved and said to them: «They took the Lord from the tomb and we do not know where they have it». Peter then went out with the other disciple and went to the tomb «(Jn 20: 1-3)
From that day on the first day of the week is Sunday, the day in which we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. He resurrects in the night long before the sunshine illuminates this day of celebration.
The first of all Sundays is a day born from two special nights: the one of the Incarnation when the Word became flesh and the one of the Resurrection when the flesh wore eternity and when the tomb, void of the Body of Christ who has emptied the power of death, was open.
The risen Christ invites us to put our breath in tune with His, the immense breath of life that always unites the visible and the invisible, earth and sky, the Word and the flesh, the now and the Everlasting.
At Easter, the first of the Lord’s days, God renews the world and says once more” Let there be light!” Before we had the night of the Mount of Olives, the solar eclipses of Christ’s passion and death, the night of the tomb. Now it is once more the first day. Creation renews itself “Let there be light,” says God, “and there was light”.
Jesus resurrects from the tomb: life is stronger than death, good is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate and truth is stronger than lie.
The darkness of the previous days is eliminated at the instant Jesus resurrects from the tomb and becomes God’s pure light. However, this doesn’t refer only to Him and to the darkness of those days. With Christ’s resurrection, light is created anew. He attracts us inside Him in the new life of resurrection and wins every shape of darkness. He is the new day of the Lord, which matters for all of us. (Benedict XVI, April 7, 2012)
Let’s pray to the Lord, Creator, and Love so that He lets his Son’s light rise from the darkness of the world. On Christmas night, in the night of the Resurrection and in the night of our humanity may He let arise what we hope, the encounter with Christ, the vicinity with Christ, the understanding of Christ and the love that unites us to Him.
Let us pray to contemplate first the glorious sores of Christ and the Cross on which Christ “spilled the blood of his Heart to gain your heart” (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross- Edith Stein).  Let’s pray with Saint Augustine who, like the Magdalene, had lived an experience of sin: “But what is it that I love in loving Thee? Not corporeal beauty, nor the splendor of time, nor the radiance of the light, so pleasant to our eyes, nor the sweet melodies of songs of all kinds, nor the fragrant smell of flowers, and ointments, and spices, not manna and honey, not limbs pleasant to the embracement of flesh. I love not these things when I love my God; and yet I love a certain kind of light, and sound, and fragrance, and food, and embracement in loving my God, who is the light, sound, fragrance, food, and embracement of my inner man-where that light shines unto my soul which no place can contain, where that sounds which time snatches not away, where there is a fragrance which no breeze disperses, where there is a food which no eating can diminish, and where that clings which no satiety can sunder. This is what I love when I love my God.” (Saint Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, X, 6, 8)
2  The first encounters with Christ-Light
Mary Magdalene, who in the darkness of the night goes to the tomb, teaches us perseverance in seeking an encounter with God. «The encounter with the Risen Christ raises us and helps us to make others rise from the dark tombs of unbelief». (Pope Francis) To hope and persevere in the light of this is an attitude that exudes Christianity.
Mary Magdalene did not yet know that the day of endless joy had already begun. So, full of pain, she went to the tomb of Jesus because she had a longing for Him (had we like her this longing for Heaven!). She did not yet know that the Beloved who had saved her with his mercy had risen. She wanted to complete the anointing, which she had started when she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and anointed them with a perfume that was worth 300 denarii (ten times more the price paid to Judas for his betrayal – with the 30 denarii returned by Judas the chiefs bought a camp for the pilgrims who died in Jerusalem).
At the dawn of this day of celebration – which for Mary Magdalene is still a day of sadness because she had not yet met her Jesus- she gets up and goes to the tomb concerned because she might not be able to remove the stone that was closing it. She wants to finish the anointment of the dead according to Moses’ law and with the love of a woman saved by the Redeemer.  When she gets there, she cries (see the gospel of today’s Ambrosian liturgy) because the tomb is empty. She does not yet know that the tomb has become like a tabernacle from which the Body of the risen Christ has come out and can be eaten.
She cannot imagine that Christ the Lord, Light of eternity, had removed not one, but two stones, the stone of the tomb and the more heavy and solid stone of death from his body of Redeemer and from the heart of the Magdalene.
This woman was the first to know that death had let go of its grip on the prey.
She was the first in faith because she was the first in love and she got the prize of love.
After having received the wonderful news carried to the disciples by the one that the Oriental Churches Liturgy call the Isoapostle (=same as the apostles) of the Resurrection, Peter and John ran to the tomb because the ones who have the greatest love run faster than the others. When they arrived they saw that Christ had fulfilled the promise that the prophets had many times announced: “Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights,* so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights” (Mt 12:40) “and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”(Mt 20:19)  “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. ( Jn 2: 19,20) “But after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.” (Mk 14:28) “As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had resurrected from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.” (Mk 9: 9-10).
They were bewildered. After days passed in desolation because it seemed that all was lost, here happens the event of light that shows that violence, injustice, infamy, and death have not had the last word. It is an event that allows seeing clearly. They are illuminated by the light of Christ, saintly light, full of God’s Love.
3  Evangelizers of the Light that saves
 Without God’s life, no one can be saved. It guides us on our first insecure steps, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?” (Ps 27), it guides us along the pilgrimage of faith toward the high: “Send your light and your fidelity, that they may be my guide; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place of your dwelling” (Ps 43:3) If we want to continue to have this light we must pray.
Christ is resurrected not to go away but to let us be resurrected with Him in his Kingdom whose limits are light and love.
The more we look at the risen Christ the more our eyes will mirror the light of his eyes. The most important thing is that our gaze becomes prayer (= contemplation), gratitude (= Eucharistic) and the gift of love that forgives offenses.
This will happen if we, like Mary Magdalene, go to Christ sad for his loss. Then, our tears will purify our eyes that, once cleansed, will be able to mirror the Light of Christ. It is Light that makes free, Love that redeems and Gift that fills our hearts. Christ the Light makes us, who often and meanly are satisfied with promises of happiness, words of love and only lines of light, men and women of light and witnesses of the Light that gives full life. For us, who not only are captivated by light, Light is our vocation.
This vocation is lived in a special way by the consecrated Virgins who receive the candle or the lamp to preserve the light of the salvific Gospel and to be always ready for the encounter with the coming Groom. (Rite of the consecration of the Virgins #28) These women are called to evangelize through holiness and prayer. The way of Evangelization to which the consecrated Virgins are called to live is the way of communicating His light. They become the lamp that carries the light of the Presence of eternal love with their human concern of women totally dedicated to God.
The consecrated virgins testify that it is possible to live a life dedicated to God, in which nothing is placed before the love of Christ. To trust oneself only in this love is a source of peace and joy. Belonging to Christ forever through virginal consecration is the first-fruit of a blessed eternity that the Risen Christ gives by consecrating the person who totally gives herself to him (cf. Maria Geltrude of the Divine Heart, Heaven and clay. Searching for God to find oneself, Castel Bolognese, Itaca, 2018, p. 58).
Finally, the consecrated virgins testify and express in a «strong» way precisely the mutual seeking of God and man and the love that attracts them. The consecrated woman, by the very fact of being there, represents a «bridge» to God, a call and a postponement for all those who encounter her. All these thanks to the mediation of Jesus Christ, the Consecrated of the Father. He is the foundation. He, who shared our fragility so that we could participate in his divine nature now and for eternity.
Patristic Reading
From the First Apology of Saint Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D.)
And this food is called among us Eukaristia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, «This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;» and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, «This is My blood;» and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.
And we afterward continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.

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Archbishop Francesco Follo

Monsignor Francesco Follo è osservatore permanente della Santa Sede presso l'UNESCO a Parigi.

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