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Easter Sunday

March 31, 2024
Image Credit: Naive Art

Today’s Invitation

Today we invite you to explore embodiment – Jesus’s and our own – with the help of queer theologians; engage the possibility of reconciliation as an act of self-respect, instead of one of sin absolution; and embody the gospel and ourselves with a contemplative exercise, and the memory of activist Cecilia Gentili.


Commentary by Olivia Hastie

Easter Sunday


Reading 1

Acts 10:34, 37-43

So Peter said to them, 
“I begin to see how true it is that God shows no partiality —
rather, that any person of any nationality who fears God 
and does what is right is acceptable to God.

“You yourselves know what took place throughout Judea, 
beginning in Galilee with the baptism John proclaimed. 
You know how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth 
with the Holy Spirit and with power, 
and how Jesus went about doing good works 
and healing all who were in the grip of the Devil,
because God was with him. 
We are eyewitnessesto all that Jesus did in the countryside 
and in Jerusalem. 
Finally, Jesus was killed and hung on a tree, 
only to be raised by God on the third day. 
God allowed him to be seen, not by everyone,
but only by the witnesses who had been chosen beforehand by God
— that is, by us, who ate and drank with Christ 
after the resurrection from the dead. 
And Christ commissioned us to preach to the people 
and to bear witness that this is the one set apart by God 
as judge of the living and the dead. 
To Christ Jesus all the prophets testify, 
that everyone who believes has forgiveness of sins 
through this Name.”

Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 118

Response: This is the day Our God has made, let us rejoice and be glad.

I give thanks to You, Adonai, for You are good, / Your love is everlasting!
Let the house of Israel say it, / “Your love is everlasting!”
R: This is the day Our God has made, let us rejoice and be glad.

Our God’s right hand is winning, / Our God’s right hand is wreaking havoc!
No, I will not die, I will live / to recite the deeds of the Most High.
R: This is the day Our God has made, let us rejoice and be glad.

It was the stone rejected by the builders / that proved to be the keystone.
This is Our God’s doing / and it is wonderful to see.
R: This is the day Our God has made, let us rejoice and be glad.

Reading 2

Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8

Colossians 3:1-4

Since you have been resurrected with Christ,
set your heart on what pertains to higher realms, 
where Christ is seated at God’s right hand. 
Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, 
not on the things of earth. 
After all, you died, and now your life is hidden with Christ in God. 
But when Christ — who is your life — is revealed, 
you too will be revealed with Christ in glory.

1 Corinthians 5:6-8

This boasting of yours is an ugly thing. 
Do you not know that even a little yeast has its effect all through the dough? 
Get rid of the old yeast to make for yourselves fresh dough, unleavened bread, as it were; 
Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. 
So let us celebrate the feast 
— not with the old yeast, the yeast of corruption and wickedness, 
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Gospel

John 20: 1-18

*Please Note: The lectionary assigns John 20:1-9 as the gospel reading for Easter Sunday, eliminating his Resurrection appearance to and commissioning of Mary Magdalene. Instead, this passage (11-18) is reserved for Easter Tuesday, when fewer Catholics are likely to hear it. We urge you to – wherever possible – read the Resurrection narrative including 11-18 as presented here. View FutureChurch’s “Gospel Restoration” project materials for more information. 

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.

So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple and told them,
“They have taken the Rabbi from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”

So Peter and the other disciple went out toward to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first; bent down and saw the burial cloths there,
but did not go in.

When Simon Peter arrived after,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.

Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the scripture
that Jesus had to rise from the dead.
Then the disciples returned home.

But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been.

And they said to her,
“Why are you weeping?”
She said to them,
“They have taken my Rabbi,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”

When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and said,
“Please, if you carried Jesus away,
tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said in Hebrew,
“Rabbouni!,” which means my Teacher.

Jesus said to her,
“Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to God.
But go to the sisters and brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Abba God and your Abba God.’”

Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Teacher,” and what the savior told her.


The Inclusive Lectionary © 2022 FutureChurch. All rights reserved. 

The inclusive language psalms:
Leach, Maureen, O.S.F. and Schreck, Nancy, O.S.F., Psalms Anew: A Non-sexist Edition
(Dubuque, IA: The Sisters of St. Francis, 1984).
Used with permission.

Read

Explore

Embodying Easter


The story of Easter is one that is deeply embodied, for Jesus, whose body is missing from the tomb, but also for his followers and friends. In Queer Theology: Beyond Apologetics, Linn Marie Tonstad asserts that the body is essential for doing the work of theology. She writes: “Theology is about bodies meeting bodies, and where bodies meet are also images, representations, imaginations, fantasies” (92). Influenced by the work of queer theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid, Tonstad constructs an approach that centralizes the body in theological discourse, articulating that human sexuality, sensuality, and embodied experience are inextricably related to any encounters with the divine. This is what she calls a “queer theology that is beyond apologetics.” By moving “beyond apologetics,” Tonstad means wanting to move beyond questions of mere queer inclusion, and center theology around queerness through sexuality and embodiment.

This framework of “queering” extends beyond the critique of heteronormativity, and expands into discourse surrounding the body. In our current society, the ‘normative body’ assumes bodies that are cisgender, male, fit, toned, cleaned – but our lived realities portray bodies that are non-male, unruly, and broken. A theological emphasis on queer embodiment captures the necessary messiness of humanity, celebrates the diversity of bodies, and finds grace within all bodies no matter what society claims. 

In Indecent Theology, Marcella Althaus-Reid imagines iconography differently, undressing the Virgin Mary so that she is more bodied, more vulnerable, and more relatable. She asserts that “all theology is sexual theology” (1). While included in the definition, a sexual theology not only captures intimacy between bodies and the self, but captures the sexualized and sensory nature of every action. Each of which, Althaus-Reid writes, connects people with, or pulls people from, knowing or feeling loved by God. The spiritual plane is not a stream of theoretical possibilities, but is concretely in our midst revealing itself through the tactile moments. 

In my inclusive Catholic parish in Boston, I attended the services for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Saturday night’s Easter Vigil. Throughout these last days, I have been meditating on the emotions and embodied reactions Jesus and the people surrounding him must have felt as he prepared to suffer and die, as his followers prepared to lose their friend and teacher. I imagine the swirling pains of betrayal, the comfort and satisfaction of sharing a meal with friends, the pain and exhaustion of carrying the cross, and the utter hopelessness and depletion at the end of Good Friday and Holy Saturday. I think here, especially, of Mary Magdalene weeping in front of the tomb. When have I wept? For what have I wept? 

Althaus-Reid and Tonstad are confronting the things for which many of us may weep: the isolation and judgment of our embodied realities. As a fat woman, it is hard for me to embrace my body as that which allows me to engage my spirituality. I have been taught from a young age that my body is something that needs to be changed in order to be good. If that’s the case, then how am I to trust it as the vessel that allows me to know and be known by God? Althaus-Reid and Tonstad’s works invite us to believe that the body is good as it is, in the form it has taken. That the body is what allows us to be authentically who we are, and that God knows us in this authenticity. What I appreciate most about their work is perhaps their desire for the body to represent the vulnerable and concrete realities of who we are – not what the world wants us to be. 

When Jesus calls out to Mary Magdalene, “Why are you weeping? What are you looking for?” I place myself in her shoes, exposed and emotional. When he calls out to her by name, I am reminded that Jesus calls us close to his side when we are the most authentic, exposed, and vulnerable versions of ourselves. That in order to be resurrected with Christ we must live in our bodies, just as Jesus did in his life before resurrection. Easter is a time when joy returns, but my prayer for each of us is that we can embrace and feel that joy with, within, and about our bodies. 

Commentary by Olivia Hastie


Olivia Catherine Hastie is a second year Master of Theological Studies Student at Harvard Divinity School focusing on Religion, Ethics, and Politics. She is also the Program Associate at FutureChurch working on building community for other Catholics in higher education and facilitating events. Her research centers mainly on Christian ethics and liberation theologies with special interest in feminist and queer theories and theologies, as well as theologies of embodiment.
Explore

Engage Catholic Social Teaching

LGBTQ+ Justice

For Catholics, it can be especially hard to distinguish the true meanings of reconciliation from the stereotypical, transactional conversations in the confessional. My proposal suggests that it does not have to be concentrated on the absolution of sins, and can be more aligned with self- respect, self-love, and self-affirmation. Reconciliation has the potential to be a method of embodied healing for people in all bodies, or especially any body that is considered “wrong” in some way by our society, or subversive. Healing our relationship with embodiment prompts us to choose to love ourselves in an “othered” body, while recognizing that struggle is still to come, and we might not love our bodies every day. This form of forgiveness is unequivocally an act of love toward the self, not to be confused with selfishness. It is love in practice as an act of resistance, reconciling the love of one’s own body in the social context of body hatred. 

In Forgiveness: An Alternative Account, Matthew Ichihashi Potts wants to think about forgiveness as consonant with the emotions and actions of love, desire, and grace. He asserts that the embodied creation of humans is an act of love, proof of God’s desire for relationship, and the ultimate emphasis on the grace of forgiveness God offers simply because one is created. Because the body is loved by God, it is deserving of love from the self. 

Engage

A Contemplative Exercise


I would like to encourage everyone to do a short body scan, guided by the question that Jesus asked Mary Magdalene: “For what have I wept?” 

Sit quietly and breathe. 

Start at your feet and ask yourself: how do my feet feel? Do they weep? Do they sing? 

Move up to your legs, and ask this question again. 

Move up into your hips and stomach, and ask it again.

Move up into your chest, your throat, your back, and the back of your neck, and ask it again.

Move up into your mouth, your eyes, and the top of your head, and ask it again.

Don’t forget to breathe. Breathe deeply, gently asking the question Jesus asked Mary Magdalene. “How do I feel? Do I weep? Do I sing?”

Then move back down your body, letting every part of your body be filled with Joy in the wake of constant and gentle breaths. 

Move down through the top of your head, through your eyes, through your mouth allowing the joy of the season to wash through yourself. 

Then move down into the back of your neck, your throat, your back, your chest, and let them be washed with joy.

Then into your stomach and into your hips. Breathing joy into each part.

Then through your legs and your calves.

And finally, we reach back where we started. Your feet now abreath with joy.



A Witness

Cecilia Gentili

Cecilia Gentili was a beloved and legendary artist and trans healthcare and inclusion activist. Cecilia was born in Argentina, then immigrated to the United States where she fought for queer healthcare access in New York City. She co-founded Cecilia’s Occupational Inclusion Network (COIN), the first dedicated healthcare network for sex workers. In her life, she put on two one-woman plays (The Knife Cuts Both Ways and Red Ink), starred in the FX show Pose, and wrote a book titled Faltas: Letters to Everyone in My Hometown Who Isn’t My Rapist. 

Gentili died in February 2024, and there was a funeral held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC. Over a thousand people came to celebrate her life. Videos from the service were wonderfully joyous and mournful with musical performances and people dancing in the aisles. Unfortunately, the priests saying the funeral mass cut it short citing “irreverence.” Cecilia’s family and community have demanded the Archdiocese and Cardinal apologize. 

Cecilia’s life embodies the queer theologies above, and the gospel call to tirelessly love and fight for the joy and freedom of all. 

 




Embody