Easter Sunday 2020

Sunday Church at Home

during the Covid-19 Crisis

Water is a sign of life, the life of Christ begun at our baptism. Place a bowl of water on the table in front of you which is accessible for all. Easter Sunday, the Day of the Lord’s Resurrection, is an opportunity to renew our baptismal faith. Also light a candle and have a Bible or Missal.

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

 

Leader:          ln the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All reply:       Amen

Leader:          Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply:       Blessed be God for ever

 

Leader:          Christ is risen! Alleluia! When we read today’s Gospel it is easy for us to laugh at Mary of Magdala. How could she not have known that Jesus had risen? Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we know how the story goes. Imagine the utter shock of visiting the tomb of a loved one to find it empty. John’s Gospel notes that even Simon Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved did not understand what had happened. Perhaps this is an invitation for each of us to think deeply about what the Resurrection means in our own lives.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: Acts 10:34a.37-43

Introduction to the reading: The Apostle Peter was originally skeptical about preaching the Gospel to non-Jews, but one day, the Holy Spirit summoned him to preach to a Gentile – the pagan army officer Cornelius and his household.  Today’s passage is a portion of Peter’s sermon, which summarizes the life and ministry of Jesus.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

In those days: Peter opened his mouth and said: “You know the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

The Word of the Lord.

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm beginning and ending with the response:

 

R/: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad.

Give praise to the Lord for he is good,

his mercy endures forever.

Let the house of Israel say,

“His mercy endures forever.”

 

The Lord’s right hand has done mighty deeds;

his right hand is exalted.

The Lord’s right hand has done mighty deeds.”

I shall not die, I shall live

and recount the deeds of the Lord.

 

The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone.

By the Lord has this been done, a marvel in our eyes.

 

R/: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad.

Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4

Introduction to the reading: The letter to the Colossians depicts Christ as the only mediator between God and the world.  A previous passage of the letter presented baptism as the way we are united with Christ.  The author will today remind us of the heights to which Christ has raised us, and they call upon us to live up to this.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

The Word of the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia!  Christ, our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed; let us therefore, celebrate the festival in the Lord.  Alleluia!

Gospel: John 20:1-9

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

Joseph of Arimathaea was a very wealthy Pharisee, a member of the Council, and a secret follower of Jesus. It was Joseph who went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion. And it was Joseph who supplied the tomb for Jesus’ burial. I wonder if someone pulled him aside and said, “Joseph that was such beautiful, costly, hand-hewn tomb. Why on earth did you give it to someone to be buried in?” “Why not?” Joseph may have answered.  “He only needed it for the weekend.” JJ

What kind of Easter Sunday is this?

We expect lighted candles, beautiful flowers, joyful music, our big Easter water font so you can take home Easter Holy Water to bless your home, youngsters excited about Easter egg hunts and eating lots of Easter eggs, the family coming together after mass for a family celebration

But today the church is empty. There are no flowers here today–  no Easter water font, and most importantly – no people – as we are still in lockdown. The lockdown is essential to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and all are aware of the devastation and deaths that the virus has caused. And the news has come that the lockdown is being extended to 30th April. And there is more grim news about the economic effects of lockdown, the jobs at risk, the people who are sick and the deaths that are happening.

Today as we are in so much need of good news that an account of an empty tomb – and that’s it! – can feels like a let-down, leaving us with questions “What’s going on? What does it all mean?”

First, Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb.  She had travelled with Jesus, witnessed his marvellous deeds, heard his words and loved him. Maybe she went to the tomb to shut the door on part of her life – the way we go to the empty room after the death of a loved one. They are not there, but some part of them is. So we go, sit, remember, grieve and prepare to shut the door on, what once was, and carry on, as best we can. Was that what brought Mary to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark? A final farewell? Shutting the door?

But his body was gone! Mary rushes to tell the other disciples, not that he was risen, but that “they” had stolen his body. Resurrection from the dead would not have entered their minds. So, Simon Peter and the disciple Jesus loved, run to the tomb where they had placed Jesus’ body. They expected little to happen, after all he was dead; they were sure of that. Some people claim that Jesus wasn’t really dead, that the disciples took him away and revived him. No, the Romans were masters of torture and murder. Jesus was dead; of that the disciples were sure.

The two who ran to the tomb found it just as Mary had described. The tomb was empty, the body gone. Peter enters the tomb first, sees the burial cloths and the head cloth neatly folded in a separate place. Nice and neat. But they were not looking for neatness, they had come looking for their beloved Jesus.

Let us be with the two disciples in an empty tomb and peering into the dark and emptiness. What parts of our lives do these two disciples represent for us at the tomb? Are we like Simon Peter, the most prominent but also flawed disciple? We have had our moments of failure, sadness and discouragement. He may represent us at the empty tomb or, at least, some part of us – when we just don’t understand what’s going on in this time of lockdown and pandemic; when things feel barren and empty; when we have to live, for this moment at least, with ambiguity and mystery.

Or, are we like the second disciple who enters, sees what Peter saw  but  “He saw and believed.” He had personally experienced Jesus’ love. He looked into the emptiness, though he saw no risen apparition, he did see with “faith eyes.” Is that the way we experience similar situations of emptiness? We draw on our experience of Christ’s love and believe? Maybe it is the faith passed on to us by parents, or other disciples of Jesus. Maybe it is the Scripture stories that enable us to look into the emptiness and still see; not lose our footing; not throw our hands up in despair, but believe and have hope.

Which disciple are we? I think we have both in us. At moments of our lives we feel lost and do not know what to do next. We just don’t see. At other times, just as empty, like that tomb, we see, go forward and grow stronger, despite the emptiness.

It is Easter, when life overcomes death; when faith sustains our doubts. Faith is not physical sight, faith is trust in God. Jesus cured blind people. We know that “seeing” is a biblical symbol for faith. Jesus not only gives physical sight, but gives the sight of faith; brings light into the dark places of our lives. He did that for those first doubting disciples, and he will do that for us too.

This day is not about what those first disciples accomplished. It is not about how deserving they were of God’s love. They did not earn the resurrection as a payment for good behaviour, or strong faith. Quite the contrary. This past week showed that, as confused as they were, as broken as they were, as much like each of us they were – still, they were the ones whom God had chosen to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just as we are chosen to do.

Faith in the resurrection is not simply a claim about our future status, after we die. It is a demonstration about who God is and how God works. It is about our God, who makes new life where there has been death. And more… Resurrection is about our vocation. It is a summons, a task to be undertaken, that sends us out to announce, by our words and actions, God’s love and forgiveness for sinners, outcasts, neglected, forgotten and displaced. It is making sure that the people suffering the most in this time of lock down receive help.

If we do that, accept our vocation, others will come to know what we profess here today… the tomb is empty because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! And that’s not the end of the story, it has only just begun!

Questions for Reflection

  1. What images, words, or phrases do you associate with Easter Sunday?
  2. What are some important Easter traditions in your own family?
  3. Where do you encounter the Risen Christ?

Leader:          Let us renew the promises made at our baptism.

Leader:           Do you reject Satan?
All:                  I do.
Leader:           And all his works?
All:                  I do.
Leader:           And all his empty promises?
All:                  I do.

Leader:          Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?

All:                  I do.

Leader:          Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?

All:                  I do.

Leader:          Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the  communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

All:                  I do.

Leader:          God, the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May he also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever.

All:                  Amen.

Family members now bless themselves with water.

 

Prayer of the Faithful

Leader:          On this day of victory, we ask God the Father for the help that the risen Christ can give

Reader:         We pray that the truth and joy of Easter may abound in the lives of the Pope, the bishops, priests and all ministers of God’s people.

(PAUSE) LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who work in healthcare, public safety, and other essential services: that God will protect them and their families as they serve the greater good in this pandemic.

(PAUSE) LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who are unemployed or facing uncertainty about their jobs during lockdown: that God will guide them in maximizing their resources and open new opportunities for them to use their gifts and skills.

(PAUSE) LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all who are confined to their home and for those who cannot be with family: that God will protect them, renew their spirits, and give them strength.

(PAUSE) LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time.

( PAUSE) LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who have died from the Covid-19 virus.
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord.

And let perpetual light shine on them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

 

Leader:          Let us pray our prayer for healing:

 

All pray:        Lord Jesus Christ,
you travelled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love. Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care. Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbours from helping one another. Lord Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow. Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace. Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace. Lord Jesus Christ, heal us. Amen.

Spiritual Communion

We can  unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us. Here is the Act of Spiritual Communion written by St. Alphonsus:

My Jesus,

I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

Amen.

 

 

CONCLUDING RITE

 

Leader:          Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

All say:          Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:          Loving God,

We celebrate the life and love that you proclaim and share with us.

May we know the joy of your Resurrection in our hearts

as we strive to share this joy with others.

Like Mary, Simon Peter and the beloved disciple,

may we run to spread the Good News of the life and love you share.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

Blessing

A leader who is a layperson, using no gesture, says:

Leader:          May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All:                  Amen.

Instrumental music may be played or a hymn may be sung.

You may download a PDF version for sharing with friends and family.

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