Light Vanquished the Darkness!

The ropes, scourges, thorns, nails and the stone that sealed the sepulchre—all of this was of no avail, except to highlight the power with which Jesus triumphantly left the tomb.

The perennially unchanging succession of seasons in the Liturgical Calendar, in contrast with the course of historical events—whether in the social, political, or economic spheres—is a demonstration of the Church’s grandeur, as it towers over the inconstancy of human vicissitudes.

But this superiority does not signify aloofness or indifference. In each phase of the Liturgical Year, the Holy Church cares for her children and spurs them to practice specific virtues, especially the ones they most tend to forget. Thus, during Lent, particularly in the Easter Triduum, she seeks to rekindle our sense of abnegation, compunction, and spirit of sacrifice, while the world flees en masse from the slightest suffering.

Next, the Holy Church commemorates our Saviour’s final triumph. Easter jubilation brings us hope, even amidst our present anxiety and sorrows, for the resurrected Christ has definitively conquered sin and death, defeated the demon, and reigns forever as sovereign Lord of the universe.

Resurrection of Christ – Church of St. Roch, Hauset (Belgium)

Jesus loved the glory of the Holy City

To have some idea of the magnitude of Christ’s triumph in His Resurrection, we need to consider the abandonment and the tragedy of the Passion. When we meditate on these facts, we see how everything in our Redeemer’s life holds meaning and unfathomable depth.

In the episode of the Agony in the Garden of Olives, for example, He left the city of Jerusalem and headed “across the Kidron valley” (Jn 18:1). This departure from Jerusalem seemed like a common event, to be shortly followed by a return, as on other occasions. However, this night marked a definitive leave-taking.

This city so beloved of the God-Man became the object of a poignant lamentation: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Lk 13:34).

Jesus loved the glory of that Holy City, with its high walls, its splendid Temple, and its inhabitants. Accordingly, He had made a special point of preaching there, using every possible means to convert them. But they rejected Him, just as they had all the prophets. They refused to heed the gentle and divine words flowing from His adorable lips. And so, on that sombre evening, He abandoned the accursed city.

They hated Jesus because He was the supreme Good

It seemed to be a night like any other. Everything contributed to an appearance of normalcy; a generally carefree atmosphere reigned. Inside homes, there was the sound of lively conversations. No one was thinking of Jesus, despite His divine wisdom. Everything was fine… why would they think of Him?

Therefore, He left the city unnoticed. And if someone saw Him, they probably looked at Him with indifference. Those men who had been the objects of such love and kindness felt no need for Jesus. They preferred the high priests as their teachers—of which Annas and Caiaphas were the preeminent figures. With “teachers” of this sort, they could persist in their dissolute lives, later appeasing their conscience with a sacrifice offered in the Temple…

In this setting, Jesus was not welcome: raising topics such as judgement and hell, He was stirring up qualms in the souls of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who were anxious to follow the prevailing fashions. The Messiah made them feel uncomfortable. With irrefutable arguments, He censured them as hypocrites for trying to reconcile religion with their worldly ways. Moreover, He confirmed His divine teaching with numerous and undeniable miracles.

In short, Jesus’ presence disturbed the peace for those wayward Jews. Theirs was not “the tranquillity of order”—as St. Augustine defined true peace—but the stagnation in disorder, which allowed them to live dissociated from God without remorse of conscience.

This is why Christ provoked such hatred. They did not hate Him for some defect or evil—which could not exist in the God-Man—but because He was the supreme Good. The mystery of human iniquity goes deep! And this hatred grew until it reached an exploding point. By bribery and false witness, His enemies achieved what they had not managed by defamation. As a climax, satan entered into the heart of the most detestable of men, leading him to deliver the Master over to the henchmen with a kiss. Our Lord offered him one last invitation to conversion, expressed in this mild reproach: “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Lk 22:48).

This vile uprising, set in motion largely by those who had most benefitted from the Saviour, culminated in the deicide; the most grievous crime in history.

Only Mary kept the Faith entirely

After Jesus’ death, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took His most holy Body down from the Cross, wrapped it in fine linen with spices and placed it in a new sepulchre, in which no one had yet been buried (cf. Jn 19:40-42).

Seeing the tomb sealed and guarded by soldiers, even the most faithful of His disciples believed that everything was finished. They were overcome with anxiety which was a mixture of dejection, fear, and discouragement. In that terrible hour, they forgot that Jesus Himself had foretold His Resurrection. Their confidence and certainty of victory vanished. With their feeble faith, they saw only tragedy and defeat.

Mary Most Holy, in contrast, gave a magnificent example of tranquil certainty in the power of Jesus Christ; a tranquillity filled with supernatural spirit. At that moment, when everything seemed lost, she alone kept the Faith entirely.

She contemplated that adorable Body hanging on the Cross—reduced to one wound “from the sole of the foot even to the head” (Is 1:6)—which, before the Passion, had shone with such absolute perfection. She saw the last drop of Blood mingled with water flowing from His Side, opened by the soldier’s lance. With her own eyes she saw His death and witnessed His burial. Nevertheless, she remained as serene as she had been during her entire life, without doubting for even an instant: Jesus will resurrect!

The Betrayal by Judas, by Duccio di Buoninsegna – Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana de Duomo, Siena (Italy)

The episode upon which the entire Catholic religion is founded

The Gospels record four passages in which Our Saviour makes this prevision to the Apostles with absolute clarity: the Son of Man will be rejected by the elders, scribes and high priests, He will suffer many torments, He will die, but on the third day He will rise again (cf. Mt 16:2; 20:19; Mk 8:31; Lk 9:22). This divine prophecy was completely fulfilled. And we see His infinite perfection shine even in setting the time period—“on the third day.”

As St. Thomas teaches, it was fitting that Jesus’ Resurrection take place on the third day; that is, after remaining in the sepulchre for a prudent interval. On one hand, to confirm our faith in His divinity, it was necessary that He rise soon after. But on the other hand, if the Resurrection had taken place immediately after His death, some might raise doubts as to whether He had in fact died.1 Thus, “to show forth the excellence of Christ’s power, it was fitting that He should rise on the third day.”2 Even in this detail, the objective of God the Father is evident: to give His Divine Son the greatest possible glory.

The Catholic Faith is based on the authenticity of the Resurrection of the God-Man. The Apostles teaches: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor 15:14). For us, this is a compelling motive for hope, because seeing Christ risen—head of the Mystical Body of which we are all members—, we also await our resurrection one day with Him.

Mary was the first person to contemplate the risen Christ

When we read the narrative of the Resurrection in the Gospels, of the apparitions and prodigies He performed in His glorious body, a question springs up from the bottom of our hearts. None of the Evangelists relate that the risen Christ appeared to His Blessed Mother, but could He have forgotten, at that moment, that she who was the only one to uphold faith in His Resurrection? Surely not. In keeping with unanimous Christian tradition, she was the first person to contemplate her risen Son. The Evangelists had probably considered it superfluous to narrate the fact, as being self-evident.

The distinguished Dominican theologian Marie-Joseph Lagrange affirms: “The piety of the sons of the Church take it as certain that the risen Christ appeared to His most holy Mother first. She who fed Him with her milk, guided Him, so to speak, during His infancy, presented Him to the world at the Wedding of Cana, did not appear again until at the foot of the Cross. However, Jesus dedicated 30 years of His hidden life to her and St. Joseph alone; how could He not give to her alone the first instant of His hidden life in God? There was no interest in divulging this fact in the Gospels; Mary belongs to a transcendent order, in which she is associated, as Mother, to the paternity of the Father, in relation to Jesus. Let us submit ourselves to the disposition of the Holy Spirit, leaving this first apparition of Jesus to contemplative souls.”3

Closed doors are no barrier to a glorious body

The way in which Our Lord entered the closed room and showed Himself to the Apostles also elicits our admiration (cf. Lk 24:36-43). The Angelic Doctor explains: “not by miracle but from its glorified condition, entered in among the disciples while the doors were shut, thus existing with another body in the same place.” And a little further on he adds, citing St. Augustine: “Closed doors were no obstacle to the substance of a Body wherein was the Godhead; for truly He could enter in by doors not open, in whose Birth His Mother’s virginity remained inviolate.”4

Beyond the theological aspect, this fact has a symbolic significance. Just as there are no material walls capable of impeding Our Lord’s passage—for He passes through without destroying them—, there are no barriers that can prevent the action of grace in souls. Grace opens for us the way to the truth, making true happiness possible on this earth; a happiness not born of sin, but of stability, austerity and sanctity.

St. Thomas touches the side wound of Christ, Cathedral of Saint-Julien, Le Mans (France)

St. Thomas saw and believed

Much has been said, perhaps even to exaggeration, on St. Thomas’ reluctance in believing the Resurrection of Jesus. However, on every side we find examples of incredulity far graver than his. It is true that, upon hearing the news of the Resurrection from the Apostles, his reaction was inflexible: I will not believe if I do not see and touch His wounds. Nevertheless, when the Master appeared the second time, with him present, he saw and believed perhaps even before touching.

The fact that there was an Apostle with vacillating faith is providential: his demand for concrete proofs serves as an aid to souls of little faith, who have existed and will exist semper et ubique. St. Thomas saw and believed. How many today see and do not believe?

An exclusive glory for the Son of God

Analysing the life of Jesus—from His birth until His Ascension into Heaven—there is nothing that fails to awaken admiration; everything inspires this noble sentiment. Inevitably, then, although Our Lord was the object of the Pharisee’s criminal hatred, He was also greatly beloved.

We find eloquent proof of this love in the multitudes that followed Him and sometimes pressed in so closely that it became necessary to take measures for His protection. Further proof is the fact that thousands of people followed Him into the desert, without the least concern for their sustenance, being thoroughly enchanted with His words. Finally, in His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, He was preceded and followed by an enthusiastic multitude proclaiming: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Mt 21:9).

There is a particular form of glory in these manifestations of love; the Son of God incarnate had this glory in a measure that no creature has ever received, or will receive in future centuries.

The Glorified Christ – Franciscan Museum of Sacred Art, Recife (Brazil)

The only authentic glory

Men of old understood the admirable moral values implied by this short word. Moved by the desire for glory, great historic figures expended enormous efforts. However, this word has lost much of its meaning today.

For some, glory consists in being esteemed by others, in following the dictates and spirit of the world; for others, it means having a great fortune, or achieving any form of celebrity. To such persons, the expression of the Apostle is applicable: “their god is their belly” (cf. Phil 3:19).

True glory, however, does not consist in the possession of material goods, and still less in the fleeting and superficial prestige among men, whose esteem depends on their own egoistic interests. Rather, it is the image of the only authentic glory: the glory of God in the highest.

The splendour of this Light inaugurated a magnificent dawn

This is the glory that Our Lord Jesus Christ conquered in His Resurrection. The ropes with which they bound Him, the scourges, thorns, nails, the lance of the Roman soldier, the stone that closed the sepulchre—all of this was of no avail, except to highlight the power by which He reduced the bonds of death to nothing and triumphantly emerged from the tomb guarded by armed men. Nothing could detain Him.

He is the Light that vanquished the darkness and triumphed over sin. His victory laid the foundation for a new order based on faith, and it will bring about the advent of the Reign of Christ on earth. This Light will continue to shine for all ages. 

The Gospel’s Silence Regarding Our Lady

Immaculate Heart of Mary – Cathedral of Córdoba (Spain)

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre” (Mt 28:1).

There were three Marys. Where was the third? Where was Our Lady? We see that her sorrow, her recollection and her hope were so great that she transcended all the circumstances and all the concrete measures—even the noblest, even those having to do with the body of her Divine Son. She was meditative, set apart from and above all events. Thus, the others served her and did for her, by her mediation, by her instigation, by her orders, that which she herself wanted to do.

We should imagine Our Lady in a perfect state of recollection, in which the entire sorrow, joy and hope of the Church was concentrated, to later be distributed to all of the faithful throughout history. For this reason, not even a word is spoken of her who, after Jesus Christ, is the centre of the Resurrection—for all the joys and glories of the Resurrection come from Our Lord and converge upon her as a focal point—, because she surpasses all praise, all reference, any mention. She hovers above all of this.

It is fitting for us to simply reflect upon this and to respectfully continue the narration. For the chronicler of the Gospel did not cross the threshold of the room where the Virgin Mary was, nor are we worthy to enter it. From outside, we may catch but a hint of that perfume of Our Lady’s devotion, delight in it and move on. This is the reason for the silence regarding Our Lady in this Gospel passage.

(Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Talk.São Paulo, April 5, 1969)



1 Cf. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. Summa Theologiæ, III q.53, a.2.

2 Idem, ad 1.

3 LAGRANGE, OP, Marie-Joseph. L’Évangile de Jésus-Christ. Paris: J. Gabalda, 1928, p.586.

4 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, op. cit., III q.54, a.1, ad 1.



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