John 20:1-9
All Things New 
by Rev. Steven G. Oetjen
Reprinted by permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"

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So much has happened in these past few days.  We stood by and watched as our Savior was condemned to death.  We winced as he was scourged at the pillar.  We followed him along the way to Calvary.  There, after his hands and feet were pierced with nails, we saw his Precious Blood soak the wood of the cross.  Then time seemed to stop as he bowed his head and breathed his last.

We then remembered his words to us: "Behold, your mother."  Hardly able to process what had just happened to Our Lord, our thoughts turned to her.  "Let me share thy grief divine," we said to her.  But how could we?  How can we comfort you, O Blessed Virgin?  Almost numb, we simply stood and watched as his sacred body, now lifeless, was bound in linen cloth.  His corpse was laid to rest.  The tomb was sealed with a stone.

It all seemed so final.

Today we are jolted out of our stupor by the troubling message of Mary of Magdala.  She comes running and says, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him"   We can hear the trembling in her voice.  We run to the tomb to see for ourselves. Peter's feet drag, perhaps heavy with the guilt of his recent denials.  We reach the entrance but wait for him to enter the tomb first.

There's a newness in the air this morning - a newness of possibilities previously thought impossible.  Death seemed so final.  The stone seemed immovable.  But now, it has been flung aside effortlessly, as if it weighed no more than a feather.  The sudarium that had covered his holy face is now folded up carefully and set aside.  The linen cloth that had previously bound his body, cemented to his skin by aloes and myrrh, is now freely outspread.  Look at this shroud and marvel.  Remember the glorious light that we once saw shine from his body, the light that, on Tabor, made his garments dazzle a white that no fuller on earth could bleach.  That same light, in a flash that must have been briefer than an instant, has now left the mysterious imprint of his body on the unfurled shroud.

That light now shines on our minds as well, and we cannot help but look at the whole world differently.  In this light, we see all things new.  Before, death was a horizon beyond which we could not see  The empty tomb has given us new vision.  We "saw and believed." (Jn20:8)

Christ, the eternal Son of God who took our flesh to himself, says, "Behold, I make all things new." (Rev 21:5) Just a few days ago, his beauty was marred, his face disfigured.  Just a few days ago, we looked at the cross with such sorrow.  We knew as we saw his suffering that our sins - mine and yours - did that to him.  Today, we rejoice to see his face made new, with a glory we long to behold forever.  His wounds are still there, but there is no pain.

If death is not final, neither is our sin.  The crucifix remains exalted, displayed front and center in our churches, but today we look at it in a totally new light.  No longer with eyes flooded by sorrow, today we see the cross as our sign of victory.  We hear the words of St. Paul with a newfound sense of hope and possibility: "Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened." (1 Cor 5:7)  Just as in the Passover we would rid our households of all leavened bread, now Christ offers us a new life rid of every trace of the old yeast of wickedness and malice.  In that ancient exodus, when the Israelites felt trapped and were surrounded by death - an army of chariots on one side and the waters of the Red Sea on the other - God made them a passage from death to life.  Just as unexpected and inconceivable is the new exodus that Christ has accomplished for us.  He has made a passage from death to eternal life.  He is risen, and already you may rise to a new life in him.  You are not trapped by death, nor by your sins.  "Behold, I make all things new."