Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ has risen, he has risen indeed.
What happens now? We know very well what to do during the forty days of Lent. We are to fast, pray, and give alms.
We are to celebrate Reconciliation and participate in devotions such as Stations of the Cross. Suddenly, a season greater than Lent comes with Paschal Joy of fifty days, and we may be unsure of what to do with ourselves. That’s where we have to look to the Gospels throughout this whole octave of the Paschal event. In the post-Resurrection accounts, some disciples returned to their ordinary lives as fishermen, another was in disbelief of the Resurrection until he placed his hands on our Lord’s side, others brought oil to anoint the dead body, others left Jerusalem and spoke about his death on their way to Emmaus. All those who believed in Jesus returned to their ordinary lives until they personally encountered him!
On a side note, I’ve always been fascinated with why there was no recorded encounter of Jesus appearing to Mary his mother, before anyone else. I suspect that he had to appear to his disciples in order to strengthen their faith and did not appear to Mary his mother because she already believed and knew it would happen!
So for us, we must be attentive to the Lord who calls us intimately by our name as we encounter his Resurrection in the Eucharist. To be a disciple is to announce that Christ is greater that our concerns, our inner battles, our imperfections, our illness, our own sins. The glory of his Resurrection assures us of the life to come!
Throughout these 8 days of the Paschal Octave after the Responsorial Psalm, we stand to pray the Easter Sequence which poetically speaks of today’s Gospel. It is a dialogue between the disciples of Jesus and Mary Magdalene after returning from the empty tomb.
Since the 8th century in France, the Church celebrated many sequences in her liturgy. After the Second Vatican Council, the Church retained four sequences: Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and the Stabat Mater. In the ancient liturgy, the First Reading followed the Gradual which we know today as the Responsorial Psalm. Each Gradual ended with the word Alleluia. The “a” in the last syllable of the Alleluia, was elongated with a very long series of notes. It was a musical technique known as a melisma. A melisma was called a sequencia or jubilus. And from the sequencia or jubilus was born the poetry which we recite today.
We stand to recite the Sequence because it is our Jubilee, it is the extension of our Alleluia. To stand and recite the sequence expresses our readiness to go and announce his Resurrection! Alleluia! Alleluia! “The tomb of Christ, who is living, the glory of Jesus’ resurrection; bright angels attesting, the shroud of napkin resting. Yes, Christ, my hope has arisen!” Alleluia! Alleluia!