Richard S. Vosko

Musings on religion, art and architecture

Easter Sunday Homily – 16 April 2017


Easter Sunday A – 16 April 2017 

Scroll down to read the homily for the April 15th Easter Vigil 

Click here for the Easter Sunday biblical texts

Henry Osawa Tanner_s “The Three Marys” (1910)

“The Three Mary’s” Henry Osawa Tanner 1910

Years ago some friends and I had the opportunity to march briefly with the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The women were protesting the disappearance of their husbands and children. Like Jesus of Nazareth many of those men were kidnapped, punished and executed for not aligning themselves with a government that denied people basic human rights. Fearful of retribution from the police, those mothers found strength in each other.

Today’s familiar gospel tells of another woman — Mary of Magdala. Unafraid of the Roman guards, she went to the cemetery to pay her respect at the tomb of Jesus. When she found the stone removed she ran to tell the other disciples who were in hiding and feeling guilty for abandoning Jesus. Along the way she met up with Jesus raised from the dead.

To learn what happened when Mary reached the disciples we turn to the less familiar Gospel of Mary of Magdala, written about the same time as the Gospel of Luke. According to that text Mary met the disciples and found them weeping and grieving. She comforted them with hugs and kisses and then told them what Jesus said to her.

She said Jesus did not dwell at all on his passion and death for the forgiveness of our sins. Rather, he said that the focus of his teachings is on the goodness of humanity. This comes as wonderful news for people who have been told they are hopeless and shameful as humans.  [1]

The disciples were taken back by her words and began doubting her credibility. Andrew was upset that Jesus spoke such words to a woman. Peter wondered why would Jesus say something to her and not to them. They began to argue among themselves missing the point of what Mary was trying to say to them.  [2]

In the face of rejection and humiliation and with the support of the disciple Levi, Mary of Magdala emerges as a strong, confident, loyal disciple of Christ. According to Karen King, the Gospel presents the most convincing argument for the legitimacy of women’s leadership. 

In reading this gospel of Mary of Magdala, I think of those marching mothers in Argentina, the families crying for the return of their daughters in Nigeria, and, all those who lead marches in this country protesting unstable governments and corrupt legal systems. 

Easter is not only about the one time raising of Jesus of Nazareth from death. By linking the human and divine in Christ, we discover that that mystery cannot be separated from his life time achievements or from whatever may happen in our future.  [3]

For you and me the resurrection points to our own evolving transformations and our deepest hopes. Seeking reconciliation, justice and peace is the undertaking of any group willing to identify with the ethical ideals taught by Jesus.

The second reading suggests we do this first by tossing out the old yeast that gives rise to greed, power and injustice. Then we become a fresh batch of dough desperately “kneaded” into nourishment for people who hunger for a chance to advance their lives in a troubled and increasingly unstable world. The sense of belonging to a larger source of energy is a good reason for belonging to a community like this one.

God continues to act in history. Today and throughout the Easter season, we affirm our place in God’s creative process. This God is not beyond our human experiences, out there somewhere. No. It is a good God who loves the human race and continues to walk with us right now.


  1.  Tausig, Hal. A New Testament: A Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts. (NY: Houghton,Mifflin Harcourt 2013, 217
  2.  King, Karen L. The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle.  Santa Rosa: Polebridge Press, 2003)
  3.  Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014, 219-220)

Author: Richard S. Vosko

Richard S. Vosko, Ph.D., Hon. AIA, is an internationally known sacred space planner. He is a presbyter in the Diocese of Albany who enjoys the classroom as much as the pulpit. On Sundays he presides at worship at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Albany, NY. For more information on Vosko’s background, his projects, publications and speaking engagements please go to his website. For his homilies and occasional musings about religion, art and architecture go to his blog. Comments, questions and suggestions are always welcomed there.

5 thoughts on “Easter Sunday Homily – 16 April 2017

  1. I just read this homily, Richard. It is 12:01am on Easter Sunday morning. Your words are powerful but and as always, you connect the scripture with our own call to act. It is heartwarming to see the Holy Scripture you are quoting, the Gospel of Mary of Magdala, brought into the light on this Easter Day. Thank you.



  2. Thank you so much for this beautiful Easter homily. I am particularly grateful that you quoted from the Gospel of Mary of Magdala. You also mentioned that Mary “ran to tell the other disciples….” I think that you were including her as one of the disciples. You have consistently supported that strong role that women have played in the Catholic Church both past and present. This means a great deal to me and to other women who have felt disenfranchised by the Catholic Church.
    I also appreciate your emphasis on seeing humans as inherently good. This is how I view others and this view of others helps me to follow Christ’s teachings. It also helps me in my work as a psyc hologist. You have been emphasizing this message more during the Lenten Season. I do need to say that it is getting increasingly more difficult to say “Lord I am not worthy for you to come under my roof, only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” I do understand that I need to ask God’s help with constant corrections as I attempt to follow Christ. I just have problems with the term “I am not worthy.” I believe that we are all worthy…we are all good…we are all created in the likeness of God. I also believe that God is always “under my roof” as I go about my life and through the grace of the Holy Spirit I try to be aware of the times when I am acting in ways that are not consistent with Christ’s message…this is a constant correction of an inherently worthy person.
    Again, thanks for all that you do to inspire us and to help us to follow Christ. God Bless and keep you well.
    Rose Capurso


    • Hi Rose,

      Thanks for your heartfelt reflection; I share your perspective completely. This probably comes as no surprise to you, but I no longer voice the prayer “Lord I am not Worthy” – I haven’t done so in many, many years. The words, “I am not worthy” are too powerful So I made up my own prayer – “Jesus, I am worthy to receive you; thank you for your healing love.” That way I am not arrogantly assuming I never mess up, but indeed, I am worthy in every way.

      Hope to see you soon!




      • Suzanne and Rose,

        The “Gospel” of Mary of Magdala is not Holy Scripture.

        After reading this homily, and these posted comments, it’s apparent that something is terribly amiss at this parish. I can’t help but think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:15-23. (If you’re not familiar with this passage from actual Holy Scripture, don’t waste any time in becoming so… Google it if need be!)

        By their fruits you will know them: Bad preaching and bad catechesis produces bad fruit… None of us is worthy to have our Creator and Redeemer – the Creator of the world, the cosmos, and everything in it – enter under our roof. When we speak the response: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed,” during the Mass (which is the unbloody re-presentation of Calvary) we acknowledge our sinfulness before the actual Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the One who died so that we may live… If we were not unworthy, there would have been no need for the Incarnation, the Passion, or the Resurrection we celebrate on Easter Sunday. (Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good, he came to make dead people live.) Please, read the actual Holy Scriptures with a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church nearby. You’re being led astray…


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