Jesus’ resurrection is at the heart of our faith Print E-mail
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Apr. 13, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

On Easter, we celebrate the feast of Jesus' resurrection. His resurrection is the heart of our faith.

In 1 Corinthians 15:14, St. Paul teaches, "If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then our preaching is in vain and our faith empty."

Jesus' kingdom

Like many Jews who suffered from messiah fever, on Holy Thursday, deep down, the apostles may still have had lingering hopes that Christ was a political messiah who would conquer the hated Roman occupiers and establish his earthly kingdom.

Despite three years of on-the-job training, the apostles often failed to fully understand that Christ's kingdom was a kingdom of justice, love, and peace and not of power and violence.

Jesus' mission was to transform human hearts so they could live kingdom values on earth and receive the gift of heaven. When the soldiers seized Jesus, he surrendered without a fight because his kingdom was one of peace.

The apostles feared they would be crucified next, so they hid. Their hopes and dreams seemed crucified with Christ.

Jesus rises from the dead

In John 20:1-18, on Easter morning, Mary Magdalene went to Jesus' tomb and discovered that the stone that sealed Jesus' grave had been rolled away.

She hurried to tell Peter and John. The two apostles entered the tomb where John, the beloved disciple, made an act of faith. The apostles left, but Mary stayed at the tomb where Jesus appeared to her.

Jesus then commissioned Mary to tell the apostles that she saw the risen Christ. Mary was the first to see the risen Lord and tell others about his resurrection. Christ had risen. They regarded the testimony of Mary, and the other women who in the other Gospels accompanied her, as an idle tale.

Eventually because of the empty tomb, the burial cloths, the women's faith, and the risen Lord's appearances, the apostles believed.

Transformed into courageous witnesses

After they received the Holy Spirit on Easter evening and Pentecost, the apostles who deserted Jesus on Good Friday were transformed into courageous witnesses of Christ.

Ten of the twelve gave their lives for Jesus because they believed he died on the cross so that he could offer them and us the gift of heaven. Tradition says that John the apostle was not martyred because he was miraculously rescued from boiling oil.

In 1002 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says, "For by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. And you were buried with him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead . . . If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God."

Seek the things above

A living, active faith in the risen Lord enables us to live a happier, more Christ-like life in this world and to seek the things that are above as St. Paul urges.

In Colossians 3:12-16, Paul teaches that if we have been clothed with Christ in Baptism, we are to put on then, as God's chosen ones, "heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another. And over all these (we are to) put on love that is the bond of perfection."

Through our Baptism and Confirmation, we were commissioned to live a Christ-like life in this world as did the apostles. Since marriage is a community of love, the Church recommends Colossians 3:12-16 as an appropriate reading for a Catholic wedding. It also reveals virtues that help Christians to treat others in Christ-like ways.

When we have been faithful to our Baptism promises, which we renew at Easter, we believe that after we die, we will see God face to face in heaven's beatific vision. In 1 Corinthians 2:9, it says, "No eye has seen nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."

Sharing our faith

The 50 days of the Easter-Pentecost season offer graced opportunities to share our faith in the resurrection.

In the Midwest, nature seems to invite us to do this. Green grass rises from its winter grave and flowers again dazzle us as stars of earth. Birds chirp alleluias of joy. Happy sounds of playing children and couples in love walking hand in hand open some to Easter love.

First Communions, proms, spring sports, Mother's Day, Confirmations, graduations, anniversaries, and other events offer us graced opportunities to share our Easter faith.

As we renew our Baptismal promises at Easter, let's pray for the grace to share our Easter faith during the 50 days of Easter-Pentecost. A good way to keep our faith is to give it away in a Christ-like way by encouraging and helping others, especially the needy, as Matthew 25 urges.

Let's pray for the grace to enjoy a fruitful season of Easter-Pentecost. Happy Easter!

Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.