Easter is the most significant celebration in the church year. Catholics celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Easter is actually an octave, lasting eight days.
Easter Sunday Readings (Vigil Mass)
(At least three, and up to all seven of the readings from the Old Testament below are used at the Vigil Mass. The third reading from Exodus 14 must always be included.)
- First Reading – Genesis 1:1—2:2 : “Then God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
- First Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 104: “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”
- Alternate First Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 33: “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.”
- Second Reading – Genesis 22:1-18: “in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing”
- Second Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 16: “You are my inheritance, O Lord.”
- Third Reading – Exodus 14:15—15:1: “Thus the LORD saved Israel on that day”
- Third Responsorial Psalm – Exodus 15: “Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.”
- Fourth Reading – Isaiah 54:5-14: “your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, called God of all the earth.”
- Fourth Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 30: “I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.”
- Fifth Reading – Isaiah 55:1-11: “I will renew with you the everlasting covenant”
- Fifth Responsorial Psalm – Isaiah 12: “You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.”
- Sixth Reading – Baruch 3:9-15, 32–4:4: “Learn where prudence is, where strength, where understanding”
- Sixth Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 19: “Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.”
- Seventh Reading – Ezekiel 36:16-17a, 18-28: “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.”
- Seventh Responsorial Psalm (when baptism is celebrated) – Psalm 42: “Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.”
- Seventh Responsorial Psalm (when baptism is not celebrated) – Isaiah 12: “You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.”
- Seventh Responsorial Psalm (alternate, when baptism is not celebrated) – Psalm 51: “Create a clean heart in me, O God.”
- Epistle – Romans 6:3-11: “We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.”
- Epistle Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 118: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. Let the house of Israel say, His mercy endures forever.”
- Gospel – Mark 16:1-7: “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.”
Easter Sunday Readings (Mass during the day)
- First Reading: Acts 10:34a, 37-43: “This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us,”
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 118: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. (or Alleluia)”
- Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4 : “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”
- Alternate Second Reading: I Corinthians 5:6b-8: “For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.”
- Gospel: John 20:1-9: “Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.”
Themes for Easter
- Death is not the final word
- God never abandons us
- New life from death
- How Easter must change our hearts
Resources for Easter Sunday
The Jelly Bean Prayer is a fun Easter prayer for your family or youth ministry. Make up some jars of jelly beans to give away with the prayer during the Octave of Easter.
This is a great game for an open gym night with your teens. It goes with any light based theme, such as GLOW (God Lights Our Way) or “let your light shine” (discipleship). Also a fun Easter activity due to the “resurrection line.” 🙂
This reflection has youth imagine themselves at the discovery of the empty tomb. How will they respond? This reflection is based on the resurrection account from the gospel of Mark, which is read at the Easter Vigil Mass.
Homilies and Reflections
Bishop Robert Barron explains that believing in the resurrection of Jesus means that he must be the center of our lives. First, this world is not all there is. Second, tyrants do not get the final word. Third, the path of salvation is open to everyone.
Since Jesus is risen from the dead, our hearts and our lives ought to change to reflect that reality.
Do we have that kind of excitement as the disciples when it comes to embracing our risen Lord?
More Thoughts on Easter
Luke’s writings show that God sent his Son to free us and let us live without fear of death. This message is still important today. Religion can become focused on ceremony and be without meaning. The shock of the resurrection energized the early Christians. And it should energize us also.
The message of the empty tomb was confusing when the disciples first encountered it. Where had they taken the body? What has happened here? But they are reminded of Jesus’ words and then it made sense. The experiences of our own lives can be confusing when we try to interpret them without faith.
Once the message is correctly framed, it is too good to keep to ourselves. Nothing, not even death and persecution, could keep those early disciples from spreading the Good News. We must also be able to first hear the message of transformation and then spread it to others.
- How does the risen Christ appear in my life?
- Where do I turn when life is confusing?
- How can I spread the Good News today?
Quotes and Social Media Graphics
Let us go forward with the joy of Jesus’ Resurrection, knowing He is always by our side!Pope Francis