On this Easter Sunday, people of faith throughout the world gather together because of the resurrection. On this day, in a sense, we follow Mary Magdalene in her search for the body of Jesus. She went to the tomb early in the morning. Hers had been a night of weeping for the loss of him who had reached out to her in mercy and hope. She would have followed him to the end of the world, but now she feared that for her the world itself was at an end.

She had responded to his loving forgiveness by a complete change of heart. Because of him, she had begun a new life. Perhaps on that Sunday morning, however, in the confusion of her sorrow she was wondering whether life itself was still worth living. Though she was looking for a dead body, not a very bright prospect, God was leading her to the light of a great truth. At first Mary thought she had found not even a dead body but only an empty tomb. She ran off in tears to tell Peter and John that the Lord had been taken away. Later, still not understanding, she returned to the tomb. Then it happened. She saw Jesus standing there. Through her tears she did not recognize him. He asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who is it you are looking for?” She took him to be the gardener, and said, “Sir, if you are the one who carried him off, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away.” Jesus said one word, “Mary.” With that, God’s grace flooded her mind and she knew that Jesus had risen as the Lord of Life.

On this Easter Sunday, we are like Mary Magdalene in that we too are moving toward a tomb, our own! From the moment we began life in the darkness within our mother’s body, we were on our way toward the darkness of the grave within mother earth. Death is inevitable. Since for many that is not a very bright prospect, our society is reluctant to admit the fact of death. We attempt to cover it over with euphemisms and pretense: no one ever dies; he “passes away.” A corpse in the mortuary must be made to look, not dead, but only asleep. Still we cannot escape the reality of death. Face death we must, but we should do so in the light of Easter Sunday.

On this Easter Sunday,  the empty tomb of Jesus tells us something about our own grave. There was a tomb for Jesus because he had really died. But that tomb was found empty on Easter morning because he had truly risen. What happened on Good Friday and Easter Sunday has great implication for us, because dying Jesus destroyed our death, and rising he restored our life. Death is not the end of the world for us. Jesus has gone before us in death to lead us to eternal life. We are going to die some day, but when Jesus comes again in glory our grave will be found empty, not because our body will have undergone the corruption of death, but because we will have risen with Christ to the glory of everlasting life.

When Christ our life appears, then we shall appear with him in glory. Easter asks us to make an act of faith in Christ rising from the tomb as the Lord of Life. It urges us to hope that we too shall some day rise with him. It promises us the complete fulfillment of our lives in eternal union with God.

An anonymous poet has summed up the meaning of Easter for us in these simple verses:

In some future time,
maybe a thousand years,
maybe tomorrow, we will know a life sublime,
no more tears,
no more sorrow.
We will stand on some high hill
and see a world
made beautiful by God,
Who came to kill
all hatred—sword and rod.
And we will live