The Resurrection of Christ

The Resurrection of Christ from the dead dramatically changed the lives of St. Mary of Magdala, St. Peter and St. John. From the Scripture readings used by the Church at Holy Mass on Easter Sunday we find rich passages of God’s Holy Word for meditation. The gospel (John 20:1-9) tells us that “it was very early on the first day of the week and still dark” when Mary of Magdala went to the tomb where Jesus was laid.  Mary, whom Jesus had “cast out seven demons” (Luke 8:2), takes the first available opportunity after the Sabbath, to bring the spices which had been prepared for His body.  It is out of love that she comes to the tomb while it is still dark; it is out of love that she runs to tell Peter and John of the “missing” Jesus.  She greatly desires to know where the body of her Lord is.  Peter and John run to the tomb, for they too are very anxious to know what has happened to the body of Jesus.  For Jesus’ disciples, anything concerning Him is important to them.  To come to believe that Jesus has risen from dead and all of the implications stemming from this central event of human history will change their lives drastically.  His Resurrection from the dead will not only impact the lives of these few eyewitnesses of the empty tomb, but will have a much greater effect than they ever considered on this first Easter morn. The Resurrection of Christ from the dead directly impacts the life of every Christian.

In the first reading from Mass on Easter Sunday (Acts10:34, 37-43), St. Peter expresses the climax of the Resurrection of Christ from the dead and how it confirms Christ’s teachings and works which have a direct impact on the life of each Christian.  St. Peter, speaking to jews, starts out by giving a very brief account of the public life of Jesus.  He then tells them that Jesus was crucified and that He rose from the dead on the third day.  Christ’s Resurrection from the dead is an affirmation of all of His works and teachings, including all of those things He did and said during His public ministry.  For if Christ has not risen from the dead, then our “faith is in vain” (1 Cor 15:14).  By rising from the dead He shows the definitive proof of His divine authority.  Next, St. Peter explains that Jesus made Himself visible to them and charged them to preach to the people.  This “Great Commission” not only applies to those first witnesses of Jesus’ Resurrection, but also to every Christian.  St. Peter also says, “All the prophets bear witness” to Jesus since Christ’s Resurrection is the fulfillment of the promises of the Old and New Testaments.  “It is through His name that everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins.”  Through His Resurrection from the dead, He makes it possible for us to enter into a new life.  Through Christ’s Resurrection we become His brothers through a gift of grace and share in the life of God’s only Son.

St. Paul, in the second reading from Mass on Easter morning, shows that baptized Christians now share supernaturally in the heavenly life of the risen Jesus.  He states, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”  Even though we can say that Christ will raise us up on the last day, and that we look forward to the Resurrection from the dead, we can also say that through baptism we have already risen with Christ.   It is through the sacrament of Baptism that the Christian enters into the Paschal Mystery of Christ.  The Christian dies a mystical death but is then raised to a new life with Christ through baptism.  Christians, therefore, even while on earth, can participate in the life of the risen Christ, but this life will be a “life hidden with Christ in God.”  The risen Christ dwells in our hearts through baptism and it is through prayer that we participate and live this hidden life with Christ in God.  However, when Christ our life raises us from the dead on the last day we “too will appear with Him in glory.”

Nourished by the Holy Eucharist, let us look forward with faith, to the Resurrection of our own bodies from the dead on the last day.  Jesus told us that he who believes in Him and eats His Body and drinks His Blood will have eternal life, and that He will raise him up on the last day.  The faith we have in Jesus and in all that He has taught us will lead us to have a great hope and a great joy as we anticipate our own resurrection from the dead on the last day.  Part of this reflection must include meditation on the reception of the Blessed Sacrament and the connection to our future resurrection from the dead.  Since Jesus is the “Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25) we prepare for our death and resurrection into eternal life every time we receive Him, with faith, in the Blessed Sacrament.  During this Easter season, as we meditate on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, let us celebrate with great jubilation, for “this is the Day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” [Sources: Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2nd ed., 1997; Faculty of Theology of the Univ. of Navarre, The Navarre Bible: Texts and Commentaries. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1993; Orchard, Dom Bernard, and Rev. Edmund F. Sutcliffe, eds. A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1953.]