Happy Easter! This is truly a day to rejoice and be glad.
In fact, the Catechism tells us that Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the “Feast of feasts.” It is the day that we look forward to all year long, in much the same way that we look forward to Heaven our whole lives long. Today we celebrate what Jesus has done for us and the ultimate destiny he won for us this day. Easter is all about Heaven!
When we truly enter into the mystery of Christ’s Resurrection, hope should grow in our hearts. This hope is what turns us into witnesses. When we realize what Christ has done for us, our hearts will naturally overﬂow with love for others.
So how can we get in touch with the reality of the Resurrection this Easter? How is Jesus calling you to witness to the hope and joy of the Resurrection?
In this reading from the Book of Acts, Peter is standing in the house of Cornelius, a Roman centurion. An angel had appeared to Cornelius and asked him to invite Peter to his house. Peter had also received a vision from the Lord, and immediately found Cornelius’s servants knocking at his door and inviting him to come. In his speech, he summarizes the life of Jesus from his birth, to his ministry, to his Death on the Cross, to his Resurrection. Peter testiﬁes to the truth and the relevance of Jesus’s Resurrection: “that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). Peter himself is amazed at God’s plan and providence, that he “shows no partiality” (v. 34) and that even the Gentiles, like Cornelius, are invited into the plan of salvation.
This moment from the Book of Acts illustrates how our own experience of Jesus, our encounter with his life, Death, and Resurrection sets the stage for our own testimony. We too can be like St. Peter, sharing our experience of the Faith and our testimony about the Risen Christ with those who have never heard the message of the Gospel. Peter shows us how to tell the story and how to make it applicable and meaningful to others. While we might not be summoned directly by an angel, we can make use of every opportunity we find to tell the Good News.
Here on Easter Sunday, St. Paul calls us to look at what it means to live in the belief and hope of Resurrection. He insists that we have already died with Christ in Baptism, participating sacramentally in the Cross. But if we have died with him, St. Paul argues, then we also participate in his victory over sin and death at his Resurrection. Instead of anticipating the resurrection of the dead at the end of time, he insists that we have already been raised with Christ in Baptism. He exhorts us that if we have been raised with Christ, then we ought to live like it by seeking the things above and setting our minds on heavenly things. Paul is emphatic that our behavior, our moral action, our deeds, and even our thinking, should line up with the salvation which has already been bestowed on us in Christ. The life which we experience now in a hidden and partial way will eventually be revealed in all its awesome reality when Jesus returns.
This Easter Sunday Gospel begins with a note of fear. The disciples are huddling together in a locked room, afraid that they too might be executed like Jesus had been. It is the evening of Easter Sunday and they have heard reports of the resurrection, but have not yet seen Jesus themselves. Rather than waiting for them to come find him, the risen Jesus comes to them and shows his wounds to them. Their fear and unbelief dissolve and fall away in this great moment of witness. Jesus condescends to their human need for evidence, for proof, by showing them the nail marks in his hands. This is not a secret twin brother, but in fact Jesus himself!
Jesus is able to transform their fear into faith with his presence. He has defeated death, risen from the grave bodily and is now standing before them in triumph. Despite the testimony of all the disciples, the one who was not present, Thomas, still doubts. When Jesus comes to them again, he allows Thomas to probe his wounds to conﬁrm his belief. Then Jesus issues an Easter blessing for us: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29 RSV). That’s us! We are the ones who are supposed to believe in Jesus’ resurrection even though we have not seen physical proof. Faith frees us from fear and unlocks the door to eternal life: “that believing you may have life in his name” (20:31). Jesus defeated death on Easter Sunday and he invites us to share in his victory by faith.
Watch the short video reflection found at FORMED.org. With a friend or in your journal, consider these questions:
We are all a part of this chain of witnesses stretching back to the Apostles. Take a moment to ponder your place in this grand story. How did you come to be a part of it? Who are the people who have witnessed Christ’s Resurrection to you? Which people did God work through to give you the gift of faith? Who are the people to whom he has given faith in his Resurrection through you?
When we forget who we are and who God is, we begin to live life diﬀerently. We live without hope, and then we have no hope to share with others. For those of us who have heard the Good News, the enemy is constantly trying to make us forget it and go back to a life without God. One could say that the whole Christian life is striving to remember who we are. Our hope is intimately tied to our memory.
Today, take a moment and remember your story. Who are you? Who is God to you? Take some time to witness to the Resurrection by telling your story. How did you come to know the Lord?
Digging Deeper: Devotions
Devotions are practices by the faithful that have developed over time as people attempt to respond to St. Paul’s call to “pray without ceasing.” They are used to extend the liturgical life of the Church into our everyday life. There are many types of devotions – the Rosary, veneration of the saints, Divine Mercy, the Holy Hour, novenas, etc. It’s important that our devotions shouldn’t become superstitious or simply “going through the motions.” The devotions should ﬂow out of a deep desire to be devoted to Jesus as one who is deeply in love with him, like Mary Magdalene in today’s Gospel.