The Empty Tomb
(The Easter Vigil offers seven Old Testament readings, a New Testament reading, plus the Gospel. The Easter Sunday Mass also has options to choose from.)
All four Gospels speak of women going to the tomb on Sunday morning and finding angels there instead of the body of Jesus. In Luke the angels say to the women, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised.”
The empty tomb is one of the most powerful symbols in all the Scriptures, probably because a tomb is usually so absolute, so final. When Jesus rose from the dead, he gained a double victory. He conquered death; death is no longer the end, and therefore it has lost its power to inspire despair. At the same time, he overcame sin once for all.
For our part, we need to enter into that triumph by continually accepting the salvation acquired for us. This is easier said than done, which explains why so many private revelations, including La Salette, draw us back to this truth.
We have been set free. We are no longer imprisoned by or entombed in sin. In Romans 6, St. Paul wrote: “We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him… For sin is not to have any power over you.”
The message of La Salette is addressed to people who have yielded to the power of sin by turning away from the love of God. Even today, the title of Mary as “Reconciler of Sinners” is validated as pilgrims visiting La Salette shrines throughout the world turn back to God. This is no easier today than it was in 1846. It takes a powerful grace to turn a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. But Mary’s tears at La Salette can soften the hearts of those who might otherwise resist her words.
St. Paul writes: “Death is swallowed up in victory;” and, in another place, “You too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.” In this way we acquire a new self-image. Yes, we are still sinners, but we are not defined by our sin.
Rather, we are defined by the supreme moment in the life of Jesus, his resurrection. His triumph is our triumph. His empty tomb is our empty tomb.