A Happy Easter!
“Now we are those witnesses!” These words of the Apostle Peter echo in our hearts this Easter. We are now the witnesses to Christ’s Resurrection because we have come to know Him. We can as truly attest as did Simon Peter that in the Holy Eucharist “we have eaten and drunk with Him after His Resurrection from the dead” and have received the mission “to proclaim this to His people.”
For some this time is the beginning of “Spring Break” or “Spring Vacation.” However, for people of faith we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection and the life of the world to come. We rejoice in the empty tomb of Easter and announce to the world the good news that “Christ is Risen, Indeed!”
The Resurrection is a historic and transcendent event and the faith-filled conviction which has shaped our history, our world and all our lives. Even in the midst of the marketing of the secular Easter with its spring themes, silly bunnies and egg hunts, we must never let our Christian faith in the Risen Christ weaken. St. Peter’s words remind us that from the beginning of the Church this Easter faith has been communicated by those who could truly be witnesses.
Just consider the many thousands of adults across the globe who come forward at Easter seeking Baptism or reception into full communion in the Church. They all have very different stories and yet, invariably, on their path to faith each one has met a witness – we might say, a witness to the Resurrection! Such a witness can be found in a husband or a wife; a friend or family member; a colleague at work or a neighbor next door; a priest or a religious sister, but one who gave testimony to the Risen Christ alive and living among us.
St. Pope Paul VI famously commented that “modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” In this era of ‘fake news’ and amidst so much moral confusion there is a growing thirst for authentic witnesses. St. Pope Paul VI also wisely observed that people today – tacitly and often aloud, but always forcefully – ask Christians: “Do you really believe what you are proclaiming? Do you live what you believe?”
By virtue of our own baptism, each one of us has been given the mission to become witnesses to Christ’s Resurrection in the world. We must be ready to give the reason for our hope to so many around us most especially to those who are in such desperate need of hope, faith and love. On this Easter day, we are called anew to recognize this vital mission entrusted to us and to see to it that: “Now we are those witnesses.”
We must as Catholic disciples authentically bear witness to the Risen Christ in word and deed. For the Risen Christ is no ghost nor mere mortal but the Son of God who conquered sin and death. A famous letter of an anonymous contemporary of St. Justin Martyr in the early Church, was meant to be read by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, described the way Christians live as not being devised by “any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines.”
As the inheritors of so great a faith, we must continue to bear witness to the reality of Christ’s Resurrection. It is no “mere human doctrine” but the greatest event in history. It is a living force for all time, making Christ present both objectively in the Sacraments, and personally in those who accept Him as Lord and Savior. Thus, any indifference to the Resurrection is not an option for those who claim the name Christian.
In fact, everything that exists and moves in the Church - Her Sacraments, doctrines, institutions, good works - draws it's strength from Christ's Resurrection Thus with St. John Chrysostom we can proclaim:
“O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages.”
A Blessed Easter!