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Faith In The Resurrection

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord (09/04/2023)

(Acts of the Apostles 10: 34a, 37-43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9)

By Fr. Samuel Odeh

We are resurrection people and alleluia is our song (Augustine).  Today we begin the Easter season, a fifty days period of reflection upon the mystery of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.  It will end on Pentecost Sunday when we recall Peter, addressing those gathered around the disciples of Jesus upon whom the Holy Spirit had descended, referring to the resurrection of Christ as the changing point in their lives (Acts 2: 24).  In today’s first reading Peter is in the house of Cornelius the centurion and also mentions that God raised Jesus from the dead and that they saw him in the flesh.  The evangelists, in their accounts of Christ’s resurrection, were not interested in offering legal proof that Jesus had been raised from the dead.  This is because faith in the resurrection of Christ, like all matters of faith, is a gift from God.  As Christ himself later said to Thomas, in a resurrection appearance, those who come to believe without the benefit of physical evidence are more fortunate.  For instance, all four evangelists did not conceal the fact that the first persons to see Jesus rise from the dead were women.  In that culture and society at that time in history, the legal testimony of women did not count for much.  In John’s account, it is Mary Magdalene who first meets the risen Jesus in the verses immediately following today’s gospel reading.  She comes to the tomb early in the morning on Easter Sunday only to meet the tomb open and empty.  She ran to report to Peter and the beloved disciple that the body had been taken or stolen.  They both ran to the tomb but the younger disciple outran Peter.  Out of respect for Peter, he stopped at the entrance of the tomb and allowed Peter to enter before him.  They both see the burial clothes lying there.  If Jesus’ body had been stolen, the grave robbers would have taken it with the burial clothes still on it.  Up to that point, the disciples “.. did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead”.

As we shall see in the gospel readings at Mass throughout the Easter season, the disciples came to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead thanks to subsequent encounters with the risen Jesus himself.  With a glorified body, he came into their midst when they were gathered as a group, with closed windows and doors not able to prevent him from coming in.  He ate with them and showed them the marks of his crucifixion.  The witness of the disciples has come down to us.  The encounter with the risen Christ made them bold, fearless, and unashamed witnesses to his person and his message.

We are invited during Easter to encounter the risen Christ and to embrace his message that there is more life in God than there is death in our world.  In Christ’s resurrection ,God’s love abundantly surpasses any hatred that exists in our world.  May this encounter transform our lives and make us his faithful witnesses.  We are resurrection people and alleluia is our song.

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