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Friends, in today’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary encounter the risen Jesus. I know that I have harped often on this theme, but I do so only because the Bible harps on it—and also because the culture tends so thoroughly to miss the point. I’m talking about the meaning of Easter. Many people agree with David Cameron, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, who once said that the message of Easter is “kindness, compassion, hard work, and responsibility.”

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m for all of those things. But so is, I would guess, any decent person from any religious or non-religious background. Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, fair-minded atheists and agnostics would all sign on for those values.

None of it is getting anywhere near the heart of what Easter really means. What Easter means is that Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed throughout his public life to be speaking and acting in the very person of God, and who was brutally put to death by Roman executioners, rose bodily from the dead. That’s what it’s all about.