“You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.”

There is no Mass for Holy Saturday, but there is a Mass in the evening: a vigil anticipating Easter Sunday.  The gospel reading is taken from the beginning of the last chapter of Mark (16:1-7).  It tells the story of the three women who went to Jesus’ tomb with the intention of anointing His body.  They arrive to find the stone that was over the entrance moved aside.  Upon entering the tomb they are greeted by a man in white who tells them that Jesus has risen and has gone ahead of them to Galilee, but that they should tell Peter and the disciples what they have seen.  Unfortunately, for many of us, these words of the man in the tomb have lost their power to amaze.  Knowing the story of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection from little up, it is easy to let the episodes and details become old hat.  But today’s reading invites us to consider anew Jesus’ triumph over death.  Let us imagine ourselves as a companion of these women.  Expecting nothing but to find Jesus’ body and tenderly take care of it as custom demanded.  Then they encounter a totally unexpected sight: the stone removed and a miraculous man in Jesus’ place.  What wave of emotions were theirs (as we read in the verse following this reading): fear, confusion, astonishment.  We need not fear and we certainly should not be confused.  But let us regain that astonishment.  Only the death of God overcomes death, and only His raising of Himself brings us life.  Jesus, tortured and killed for our sins, proclaims victory over death by rising from the dead.  He is our hope for entrance into heaven and that we too will be raised on the last day.

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