April 21, 2019 — Easter Sunday, The Resurrection of the Lord
He is risen! He is truly risen! This is what the celebration of Easter is all about — the truth that Jesus was crucified for our sins and three days later rose from the dead, conquering death once and for all. We proclaim this truth every Sunday in the Nicene Creed: “For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, He suffered death and was buried and rose again on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures.” Amazing.
We know it’s true, but this Easter Sunday, let’s ask ourselves if we live as if it’s true. Do we simply recite this portion of our Creed week after week or do we live as witnesses to this glorious reality?
A witness, of course, is one with first-hand knowledge. Our readings today focus not only on the Resurrection itself, but also on those who were witnesses to it and to the life and work of Jesus throughout His public ministry. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Peter proclaims, “We are witnesses of all that He did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.”
In the Gospel, St. John describes the first three witnesses to the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene, John (“the disciple whom Jesus loved,”) and Peter. Mary Magdalene arrived first at the tomb where our Lord’s Body had been laid. She saw that the stone once covering it had been removed. She ran to Peter and John to tell them what she had seen and they in turn ran to the tomb to see for themselves. Each of these three had an individual “experience” of the empty tomb. Each went up close to it to try take it all in, to marvel at what Jesus’ love and had accomplished.
As a result, each one became a witness to the truth of the Resurrection. And they spent the rest of their lives bearing witness to its saving power. In fact, the truth of the Resurrection has been passed on for 2,000 plus years now by those willing to serve as witnesses to its power in their lives. Now it is our turn, privilege, and responsibility to serve as Christ’s witnesses.
How are we, as Christian stewards, to do so all these years later if a witness is one with first hand knowledge? We may have to look a little more closely to see for ourselves than those first three witnesses, but we can have just as real an experience of the empty tomb and the redeeming power of the Resurrection.
We “see for ourselves” when we prayerfully read the Scriptures knowing they are a living love letter from God with a message to each one of us. We “see for ourselves” each time we receive the precious Body and Blood of our Lord in the Eucharist. We “see for ourselves” when we experience His personal and healing power in our hearts during Reconciliation. We “see for ourselves” when we pour out our lives in loving service to those around us and experience the deep satisfaction that only comes when we are imitating our Savior.
This Easter, don’t just recite the Creed. Resolve to live as if it’s true. Experience Jesus for yourself every day from now on. You will be a powerful witness to the truth that He is risen! He is truly risen!