EASTER (Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Col 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-9)
The greatest miracle that ever happened in the history is the resurrection of Jesus. It proves that Jesus is God. It is truly extraordinary that Paul made the claim that if there is no resurrection from the dead, then the faith of believers is useless and that all who have died in Christ have died in their sins. Paul knows that if he is lying, he and the other disciples have jeopardized the salvation of the whole Christian community, and furthermore he emerges as a false witness (a perjurer) before God, and is answerable to Him. The consequences of lying to (or even deceiving) believers about the resurrection cannot be overstated, because the resurrection is the foundation of Jesus’ claim to be the exclusive Son of God – and the unconditional love of God with us. Are there any proof for the resurrection? As a matter of fact, there is.
1.Jesus himself testified to his Resurrection from the dead (Mk 8:31; Mt 17:22; Lk 9:22). (2) The tomb was empty on Easter Sunday (Lk 24:3). Although the guards claimed that the disciples had stolen the body, every sensible Jew knew that it was impossible for the terrified disciples of Jesus to steal the body of Jesus from a tomb guarded by armed guards. (3) The initial disbelief of Jesus’ own disciples in His Resurrection, in spite of his repeated apparitions, serves as a strong proof of his Resurrection. Their initial disbelief explains why the Apostles started preaching the Risen Christ only after receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. (4) Neither the Jews nor the Romans could disprove Jesus’ Resurrection by presenting the dead body of Jesus if the body had been stolen as they claimed. (5) The Apostles and early Christians would not have faced martyrdom if they were not absolutely sure of Jesus’ Resurrection. (6) Apostle Paul’s conversion from a persecutor of Christians to a zealous preacher of Jesus supports the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. (Gal 1:11-17, Acts 9:1, Acts 9:24-25, Acts 26:15-18). (7) The sheer existence of a thriving, empire-conquering early Christian Church, bravely facing and surviving three centuries of persecution, supports the truth of the Resurrection claim.
The seventeenth-century philosopher, John Locke, some of whose ideas were incorporated into the Declaration of Independence, wrote, “Our Savior’s Resurrection is truly of great importance in Christianity, so great that His being or not being the Messiah stands or falls with it.”
A day after the terrible tragedy at Columbine High, CNN journalist Larry King did a live interview with a teenage girl named Mickie Cain, a student who had witnessed the massacre. Mickie was having a difficult time maintaining her composure and was able to blurt out only a few words before lapsing into uncontrollable sobs. Larry King was patient and gave her plenty of time to regain her composure. Mickie recounted the chilling story: “Let me tell you about my friend Cassie,” she said. “[Cassie] was amazing . . . She completely stood up for God when the killers asked her if there was anyone [in the classroom] who had faith in Christ. She spoke up [and said she did] and they shot her for it.” Such a testimony as Cassie made that day makes our witness look pretty pathetic. The critical question is, would we make such a sacrifice for something that we knew was patently untrue? Of course not. And neither would those early disciples of Christ. They had met Christ, Risen from the grave, and they would not testify otherwise, even while being tortured. The witnesses are so credible, the change in their lives so dramatic, that their testimony cannot be disregarded.
Easter gives us the joyful message that we are a “Resurrection people.” This means that we are not supposed to lie buried in the tomb of our sins, evil habits and dangerous addictions. It gives us the Good News that no tomb can hold us down anymore – not the tomb of despair, discouragement or doubt, nor that of death. Instead, we are expected to live a joyful and peaceful life, constantly experiencing the real presence of the Risen Lord in all the events of our lives.
Father Basil Pennington, a Catholic monk, tells of an encounter he once had with a teacher of Zen. Pennington was at a retreat. As part of the retreat, each person met privately with this Zen teacher. Pennington says that at his meeting, the Zen teacher sat there before him smiling from ear to ear and rocking gleefully back and forth. Finally, the teacher said: “I like Christianity. But I would not like Christianity without the Resurrection. I want to see your Resurrection!” Pennington notes that, “With his directness, the teacher was saying what everyone else implicitly says to Christians: ‘You are a Christian. You are risen with Christ. Show me (what this means for you in your life) and I will believe.’ That is how people know if the Resurrection is true or not. We have to show that in this world of pain, sorrows, and tears, that life is worth living by our belief in the resurrection. It is our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in our souls, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament, and in Heaven, that gives meaning to our personal, as well as to our common, prayers.
There is a story of a man whose hobby was growing roses. When he worked in his rose garden, he always whistled. It seemed to everyone that he was whistling much louder than was needed for his own enjoyment. One day a neighbor asked him why it was that he always whistled so loudly. The man then took the neighbor into his home to meet his wife. The woman was not only an invalid but was completely blind as well. The man was whistling, not for his benefit, but rather for the benefit of his wife. He wanted his blind wife to know that he was nearby, and that she was not alone. That story is a wonderful illustration of the significance of Easter Day. The affirmation, “Christ is risen!” reminds us that God is near, and the experiencing of His presence strengthens us in our weakness. If not dead and risen Jesus could only be in Palestine or only in just one place. But risen, he is present everywhere with us.
Easter reminds us that every Good Friday in our lives will have an Easter Sunday and that Jesus will let us share the power of His Resurrection. Each time we face a betrayal of trust, we share in the Resurrection of Jesus. Each time we fail in our attempts to ward off temptations – but keep on trying to overcome them – we share in the Resurrection. Each time we continue to hope – even when our hope seems unanswered – we share in the power of Jesus’ Resurrection. In short, the message of Easter is that nothing can destroy us – not pain, sin, rejection or death – because Christ has conquered all these, and we too can conquer them if we put our Faith in Him. Jesus is risen, we also will rise from the dead, and therefore, let’s rejoice and be glad.