Rising from the Tomb
Easter is BIG – it takes 50 days to celebrate it. Why 50? Because Jesus spent 40 days on earth appearing to his disciples and teaching them. At the end of this time, he ascended to the Father. For nine days (the first Novena), 120 of the disciples, including Mary and the Apostles, were in prayer and fear in the upper room. Then the Holy Spirit came upon them in wind and fire and the Church was born. On that day, Pentecost, the Church finally lets go of the Easter season and moves back into Ordinary Time, beginning her missionary journey that will endure until the end of time.
One Bible story that is well-known but usually not connected with Christ’s rising from the tomb is the retelling of the healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Mark tells us how Jesus made a house call, healed the suffering woman and returned her to her life and ministry (Mark 1:29-31). We heard this story at Mass a few weeks ago on Super Bowl Sunday. Hopefully, you were paying attention…
In a beautiful reflection by Scott Hahn on The Prodigal Catholic Blog, we are reminded that Simon’s mother-in-law is a symbol of all of us: working hard, struggling, losing hope, too weak to help ourselves.
Hahn explains: “Long before the coming of Christ, God promised to take His chosen people by the hand (Isaiah 42:6). Jesus seizes the hand of the woman and helps her to get up. The word translated ‘help’ is actually Greek for ‘raising up.’ The same verb is used when Jesus commands a dead girl to rise (Mark 5:41–42). It occurs again when Mark describes the resurrection of Jesus himself (Mark 14:28; 16:7).”
St. Paul, writing even before the composition of Mark’s Gospel, proclaims that this is exactly what Jesus offers to us: to raise us who lay dead through our sins (Ephesians 2:4-6).
Just as the days after Thanksgiving are often filled with wonderful food, so Eastertime is awash with God’s mercy as the effects of the Resurrection continue to rush upon us, like the waves of the ocean relentlessly embracing the sands of the beach.
This is a graced time to return to God by starting to pray again, by reading the actual story of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, by making time for confession. The church is open for prayer and adoration. And the Heart of Jesus never closes.
Just as Christ Jesus came to the house of Peter, took his mother-in-law by the hand and raised her up, restoring her to life, so he is anxious to do the same for each of us. For you.
Ignore the calendar. It’s still Easter here in Peter’s house.