“I have risen, and I am with you still, alleluia.”
Jesus Christ, the Carpenter, the Nazarene, the Son of the Virgin Mary, is risen from the dead! I am betting my life on it.
What does Jesus’ Resurrection have to do with the 21st century believer? We all know that we live in a world torn by war, violence on international, national, and domestic levels; we are a society worried about its future, the stability of the economy, and providing for the poor on all levels. We live in uncertain times.
How about the apostles? They too, lived in uncertainty. After giving their lives to this simple rabbi, they ran away only to find him nailed to a horrific death at the cross! They lost all hope in a Messiah who they thought would free them from political power. They were betting their life on Jesus.
Nevertheless, on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala found the tomb empty! She ran to tell Simon Peter and the others. Yet, they did not understand what rising from the dead really meant. No one comes to a funeral parlor today, to find the casket empty. No one comes to a mortuary to find that the body is not there and return home only to find their loved one, whom they thought was deceased, to be waiting for them alive.
Many have come to understand the Resurrection of Jesus as merely the resuscitated corpse of the Nazarene whom the disciples nursed as he quietly lived out the rest of his days only to die again. Some have also come to understand his Resurrection as the appearance of a ghost.
Rather, we who profess our faith in Jesus Christ know that it is an encounter with a real person, with God himself who has conquered sin, who has trampled death. He has appeared to us in a new way which bridges this world into the next, who has given us a new way of living: living in Jesus Christ. In the weeks to come during this Paschal Season, we will hear of how they came to believe in the Resurrection of the Lord.
What does Jesus’ Resurrection have to do with the 21st century believer? We live our lives knowing that our life is not a series of random events. Life, with its joys and sorrows, has meaning. Furthermore, our lives have become utterly divine, completely holy because God in Jesus Christ has experienced everything we experience except sin. Furthermore, Jesus Christ has over-compensated his love for all eternity, has proven his love for us by offering himself as a total gift to the Father. Are we alone coming to accept such a reality? No, we are not. Look at those who followed him in our First Reading.
Peter, the closest apostle and friend, denied the LORD, repented and received the Holy Spirit and told the people that they are witnesses to the great deed of God. He bet his life on the faith which we profess as the disciples gave witness to the Father raising Jesus from the dead.
Consider this. Countless men, women, and children do not die and throw themselves as martyrs into the Roman Coliseum for a fairy tale, a fiction character, or an extraordinary prophet. They lay down their lives because they have seen him and have come to believe that their life is now hidden in Jesus Christ as Saint Paul eloquently stated in the second reading.
Though the world professes an independence from God or the irrelevance, it does not change the face that the Father has raise Jesus from the dead – have we come to personally believe for ourselves being moved to an intimate and real encounter with Jesus Christ?
For the Catholic, Christ has never left. He remains with us here in the Eucharist; and as we receive him we are changed and we celebrate our faith and our life in Him. God exists and because we accept this we know what it means to be redeemed, we know what it means to hope for eternal life with God.
Come now, to this table and altar of eternal life, to the emptiness of the tomb, and meet the One who loved you since the beginning of time and destined you for himself. Christ proclaims, “I have risen, and I am with you still, alleluia. You have laid your hand upon me, alleluia. Too wonderful is this knowledge for me, alleluia, alleluia.”