The Resurrection of Our Lord
Easter Sunday, 2017
Acts 10:34,37-43; Ps 118; Col. 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-9
Deacon Jim McFadden; St. John the Baptist C.C.
Today we are celebrating The Resurrection of the Lord, which is the be-all and end-all of our Christian faith. It really comes down to this: if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then Christianity is a fraud and a joke; if so, we should just get up and leave and priests and consecrated religious should immediately look for honest work. But, if he did rise from death, then Christianity is the fullness of God’s revelation, and that Jesus should be the absolute center of our lives. There is no third option.
Moreover, we are not just remembering the historical event, but we are celebrating that the resurrected Jesus is forever with us. Jesus was not one and done in dying to redeem us, but desires to be an active part of our lives.
As we assemble here in this Easter liturgy, we are also proclaiming by our witness that the Cross was not the end, but a beginning: we are able to see in the final act of Jesus’ earthly existence a positive sign of hope. Why? Because now we can draw the Crucifixion into the Resurrection; we can connect the two events. Jesus’ final journey into death tells us that love is victorious and that the risk of living a life of love is worth taking.
What do we have to justify this hope? The Empty Tomb. Let’s look at the Gospel account. Peter and John come running to the tomb after hearing that perhaps Jesus has risen. John, the Beloved Disciple, the human symbol of love, arrived there first. Peter, the leader of the community and our first pope, who is perhaps older than John, gets there later. John waits out of deference to Peter, the rock of the Church, and allows him to enter the tomb first. At first, they are only aware of is the empty tomb. That in itself is not proof of Resurrection. The proof for them, as it will be for us, is their experience of the Risen Christ–the Jesus who lives.
That’s the only way we can know that Jesus is Risen, that He is Lord. We cannot physically see the Risen Christ. We can’t prove his Resurrection irrefutably through abstract reasoning, but we can see the Risen Christ through the eyes of our faith. We can experience the Risen Christ sacramentally, especially through the Eucharist in which Jesus is truly present. We can experience Him ecclesially—through the People of God. That’s what I think Jesus meant when he reassured us that when two or more people gather in my name, I am there with them.
Brothers and sisters, when we “move, live, and have our being” in the Risen Christ, we begin to see reality as God sees it. We can see things from the divine point of view because at the deepest level of our being we are in touch with this power–this world of Spirit that sustains everything in existence. From this vantage point, we can know that the most pivotal event in Salvation History–the Resurrection of Jesus–is true because we experience him dwelling within us and transforming other people around us. That’s why saintly people are so magnetically attractive: they radiate the Lord Jesus.
The first step of the life of a Christian is to go within and unite with the Divine. We leave the world where we are comfortable and in control and begin the slow arduous struggle of surrendering to God.
Through prayer, meditation of Scripture, enthusiastic participation in the sacraments, and service to others, we begin to see what is truly Real. We begin to see reality from the perspective of the Risen Christ.
Let me ask you: what is it that you desire at the deepest level of your heart and soul? That’s a good question because what we desire will determine what we see.
If all we see is the accumulation of the goods of the world—wealth, prestige, power, and pleasure—then we’ll aggressively compete for those God-substitutes that are scarce and exclusive. But, what would happen if we became people who saw reality through the experience of the Resurrection? We would start desiring that which is completely abundant; something everybody could have: Resurrected Life! What would happen to us if we desired something that was already there–that we didn’t have to wrestle it from someone else? Rather than try to save our lives, we would strive to give ourselves away. We will begin to see what is truly Real, and our desires would slowly change. We will also begin to feel differently. As we abide in the Risen Jesus, we will experience “a joy that will never pass away. “ You can’t say that about anything else, can you?
So, as the People of God, we collectively strive to live like Jesus—we are a visible sign to the world that Christ is risen. As James reminds us in his Epistle, we must be more than hearers of the Good News of the Resurrection, but we must be doers. We are brothers and sisters of the Risen Christ, who is drawing all of humanity, all of Creation unto Himself. Let us act in every aspect of our lives that we know that Jesus Christ is Risen and is with us forever. Amen.