for Easter Sunday
Acts 10:34a, 37-43 - Col 3:1-4 - Jn 20:1-9
by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
Witnesses of the Resurrection
Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Acts 10:34, And Peter opened his mouth and said: «37, You know the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39, And we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40, but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; 41, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42, And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43, To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.»
Alleluia! Jesus is risen! Alleluia! By saying that, by announcing this Good News to the entire world, I am, along with all believers and all the Christian faithful, a witness of the Resurrection of Christ Jesus, the Messiah, long-awaited by the Jewish people, who died and returned to life almost two thousand years ago!
Witnesses of the Resurrection! All who believe in Christ are witnesses of the Resurrection! For all the men and women of the earth who were baptized and confirmed have received the Gift of the Spirit in order to give testimony to the resurrection of the Savior Jesus. What grace! What a marvel! And, above all, what a Mystery! A Mystery of faith, principally. A Mystery of faith, of hope, and of charity!
Humanly speaking, the Apostles, and Peter in particular, were the privileged witnesses of the Resurrection of Christ. For they were his contemporaries, "chosen by God as witnesses", who "ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead" (Acts 10:41). But we who are the faithful of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, we who participate in the faith of the Apostles, and notably in the faith of the Apostle Peter, we have received the Gift of the Spirit in the Tradition of this same Church!
This is unique in the world and in the history of humanity! For almost two thousand years, the Gift of the Holy Spirit is transmitted from generation to generation, from age to age, from century to century, thanks to the gift of faith that is still lived in a full and complete manner through the ministry of Peter and his Successors, the Popes of Rome. And this will continue until the end of time, until the Day of Christ, until the moment when the Lord Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead!
That is our faith, that is our hope! This is the proof of all our love for God and men! A love that is sometimes misunderstood, derided, mocked, persecuted, martyred... As we have just seen recently in Iraq with the kidnapping and death of Monsignor Paulos Faraj Rahho... But could it have been otherwise? Is this not the love of the Risen One? Now, did the risen Jesus not preserve the marks of the nails and of the wound in his side? Thus, if we love the risen Jesus, we also love Jesus in his Passion...
If we love the risen Jesus, if we proclaim our faith in Jesus the Savior of the world, who died and was brought back to life by the Spirit of God, then let us not be surprised that we are misunderstood by the world and by the spirit of the world! Shortly after the first discourse of Peter, while Peter and John preached in the Temple of Jerusalem, "the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody." (Acts 4:1-3)
Col 3:1, If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2, Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3, For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4, When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Peter went to prison for having witnessed to the risen Jesus (cf. Acts 4:3; 5:17-18; 12:3-5). But when men twice wanted to keep him captive, the Lord, through his Angel, delivered Peter from that unpleasant abode (Acts 5:19; 12:7)! Paul also went to prison. It is even from his Roman prison cell that he wrote his epistle to the Colossians, which we read today. But Paul is the Apostle to the Nations: although he knew Peter and the Eleven other apostles, on the other hand he did not know Christ during his life on earth. Paul, contrary to Peter, neither ate nor drank with the risen Jesus (cf. Acts 10:41). Paul knew Christ only in and through faith, in and through the Holy Spirit, just as we do today. It is in this sense that we can say that we, like Paul, are resurrected with Christ! "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." (Col 3:1)
John 20:1, Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2, So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." 3, Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. 4, They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; 5, and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6, Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, 7, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. 8, Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9, for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
"He saw and believed." These few words, written by Saint John himself, summarize well the entire action of the witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus. "He saw": John is a contemporary witness of Jesus, he entered into the empty tomb, he saw the order that reigned there, a not unequivocal proof that the hand of God had passed by... "He believed": John joins his faith to the faith of the Church and to that of Peter, John gives us as a heritage, thanks to the Gift of the Holy Spirit, the testimony of his faith as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and of Jesus Christ dead and risen!
Let us be true witnesses of the Resurrection! Let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, standing at the foot of the Cross of Jesus on the day of his death, awake in her faith on Easter morning to wait for the visit of her risen Son, let us ask her for us to be attentive to the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Power from above!