A Single Story

As I sat with today’s Gospel reading during my morning prayer, I was momentarily confused, since the reading is John’s account of Peter and John finding the empty tomb after Mary Magdalene tells them she has seen the risen Lord. Wait, I thought – we just celebrated Jesus’ birth and here we are at the resurrection!

I then remembered that today is the feast of St. John the Evangelist, so both readings come from John: a beautiful passage from the First Letter of John and the first reading and the Gospel to which I already referred.

As I continued to sit with the passages, it seemed fitting that we hear the story of the empty tomb two days after Christmas. Today’s Gospel is an important reminder that the Christian story is a single one: one that begins with Incarnation and ends with death and resurrection. Our beautiful Nativity scenes are merely Act I of a play that cannot be fully appreciated unless we apprehend it in its entirety. God’s entry into the world inevitably leads to the cross. But then, when all hope seems lost, the tomb is empty. The story whose beginning we celebrate this season ends with victory over death. That is the Christian story.