“You must have heard about Jesus of Nazareth. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, yet three days afterwards God raised him to life. All who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.” As we come together at the beginning our Easter Celebrations, we have indeed heard St Peter’s proclamation. Christ is Risen, he is truly risen from the dead!
To hear the familiar words is no more than the beginning. Christ’s Resurrection is only truly heard when it is understood, accepted in faith and becomes the beginning of a truly personal resurrection.
Because Christ is risen, we are not as we were before. The saving power of Christ’s Resurrection reaches down the ages, touching every sinful heart. During this Year of Mercy we should remember especially that the Resurrection is the power of the Father’s mercy embracing a sinful world. “All who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.”
St Paul, describing the Resurrection to the Colossians, described the truly personal transformation that takes place in those who welcome their Risen Lord in faith. “You have been brought back to true life with Christ. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed, and he is your life, you too will be revealed in all your glory.”
We die with Christ when we refuse to remain the slaves of a sinful past. We rise with him when we believe that his life, and the power of his Resurrection, dwells within us.
St John’s familiar account of the empty tomb describes disciples once resigned to death, now brought to life in their risen Lord. Mary of Magdala went early to the tomb. As she prepared to pay her last homage to the body, her thoughts lay in the past, with all that had been lost. Discovering the stone rolled back, she wailed that they had taken her Lord, and that she could not find him. As sinners, we frequently feel that the Lord has died in our lives, and that our empty hearts do not know where to find him.
When the disciples came to that same empty tomb, they believed. They understood that Christ lived in them. “Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.”
This article first appeared in the March 25 2016 issue of The Catholic Herald. To download the entire issue for free with our new app, go here
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