Bulletin column for Easter Sunday:
In certain circles in the world today, it is vogue to offer various denials of the fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead. The arguments range in scale from the Apostles stealing the body, to some elaborate hoax to questions as to whether Jesus was actually dead in the first place or not. In many ways, these objections are not new; after all, we see some of them raised in the Gospels themselves! Yet the ‘New Atheism’ that is growing in popularity today has returned to these ancient heresies in a search to discredit the Christian community of today. Yet, turning back to the Gospels, we can discern how to respond to the charges leveled in such a way.
Prior to the Resurrection accounts, when did we last see the Apostles? They were all running for their lives as Jesus was being arrested prior to His Passion. Even after having been warned by Jesus Himself during the Last Supper, all but John the Evangelist fled in fear of their lives.
Starting today and throughout the Easter Season, we will read from the Acts of the Apostles. That same band of brothers who fled for their lives will shortly be offering testimony and witness: with words, deeds, and even to the shedding of their blood. Once too scared to even acknowledge that they knew who Jesus was, shortly they will all give their lives for Him!
That change in the Apostles is the greatest testimony to the veracity of Resurrection that we can see. Nothing else can explain this transition other than knowing that Jesus truly was risen from the dead. If they knew it was all a great hoax, would they have all been willing to give their lives? If they knew that someone had stolen the body, would they have been so bold in their preaching?
Because they had this radical encounter with the Risen Christ, all those long nights of talking and walking with Jesus finally start to make sense. All those somewhat cryptic sayings that he gave them finally all start to fit together and gave them (and through them, us!) a bigger picture of who Jesus was and what He came to do. The Resurrection is the lens through which we view all of His life and ministry!
That same change that happened in the Apostles is available to us, too. Today, as we gather to celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord, the breaking of sin and death by the power of God and the restoration of the relationship between God and His beloved creatures; we have the opportunity to have a similar encounter with Jesus Christ, a similar opportunity to look at the Resurrection with new eyes, the same wonder and awe that Peter and John encountered when they ran to the empty tomb; the same amazement of Mary Magdalena when she hears Him call her by name…
As we celebrate this glory, may the light of the newly risen Christ Jesus shine always in your hearts, minds and souls. And may we all be truly transformed by the encounter that awaits us today!
In the Risen Christ,
Fr. Kyle Schnippel