WITNESSING TO THE EASTER JOY: WHAT, HOW, AND WHY


The three readings of today answer these questions, the what, the how, and the why of witnessing to Christ’s resurrection. The “what” of witnessing is seen in Peter’s speech at the house of Cornelius. Peter makes the resurrection story clear to his audience. He recounts the incidents that happened in Judea, beginning in Galilee. The story is about Jesus of Nazareth, anointed by God, who came performing miracles and healings by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Jews planned his death, accused him falsely, and executed him on the cross. Peter declares the message; the disciples are witnessing to the power of light over darkness, truth over falsehood, life over death. And he declares, “We are witnesses of all that he did.”


The 2nd Reading answers the “how,” the good news of Christ’s resurrection provides the ways and means of bearing testimony. Those who have been raised with Christ undergo spiritual transformation. They no longer live in the flesh, rather are called to seek heavenly things with the risen Christ who is seated at the right hand of the Father. Paul’s message is clear, we must realize the huge impact of the Christian heritage and unite ourselves with acts that glorify God. How much do you seek Christ in relation to your faith? As baptized Christians, do you understand that you’ve become a treasures of God’s goodness? The resurrection inspires us to live like Christ, desire intimacy, maintain a sustained search for Jesus.


The big question of “why” we are called to witness is taken up in the gospel. Christ’s resurrection is an historical reality characterized by evidence from firsthand witnesses. Mary Magdalene is the first to visit the tomb, sees the stone removed and kept aside. Mary Magdalene runs to Simon Peter and the other disciples to announce what she has seen. Have you ever really thought about this scene, about the risk taken here by Mary Magdalene? Here’s this young lady of maybe 20-30 years old running to a graveyard in the dark. Why does Mary Magdalene do this? And what kind of person does that? Have you ever gone to a graveyard in the dark? Quite scary, but Mary shows us what it means to love. She demonstrates what it means to be search for Christ, to be hungry for the things of heaven.

Think about this in relation to the very first question in the Old Testament directed to Adam and Eve. The Lord asked, “Where are you?” Other gospel accounts of the resurrection record that Mary Magdalene was crying outside the tomb. She asked the two angels where the body of the Lord is. She’s returning the question, “Lord where are you?” She is telling Jesus that humanity is caught in darkness without him. She is seeking the Lord, the Light of the world.


Mary Magdalene has already come out of her own darkness into the light of Christ. She had the notorious reputation but found mercy and peace in Jesus. She couldn’t bear to be without the light of God again. The “why” of witnessing to the search for Christ. We can channel this question to ourselves during this Easter. Where are you? Where are you in your relationship with God? Did the Lenten period help you to take some step forward, to deepen your search with Jesus? So, where really are you now? Where are you your prayer life? Has it increased this Easter from last Easter?


The two disciples, Peter and John, therefore, hasten to the tomb, not just stay afar to look, but go right inside the tomb. They join Mary in the search, returning humanity to the Lord who was abandoned by all. Scriptures narrate the details with great attention, Peter “went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed” (Jn. 20: 8-9).


The clarity of the accounts surrounding the resurrection of Christ is compelling. The events are described in an orderly sequence as well as the processes leading to those events. These have great significances. Christ’s resurrection happened on the first day of the week illustrating newness. It ushers a new beginning in the life of the disciples and in our lives as members of the mystical body of Christ. Saint Paul reminds us that Christ is the First Fruit of all who have fallen asleep, and through him all things are created. By his resurrection, Christ recreates us, dispels the powers of iniquities, drives away our fears and brings us back into light. In Christ, our hope is alive.


Even though Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb while it was still dark, she embraced the dawn of the risen Christ. Christ’s resurrection illumines the day. For that reason, Peter preaches with courage different from the time of the judgment. The resurrection restores the bond of discipleship; Mary sees the tomb, runs back to the disciples. Peter and the other disciples both run. Peter goes in first, then joined by the other disciple. Together with Mary Magdalene, they take the message back to Galilee. This is the power of the good news. It keeps spreading, keeps uniting people of different races, tongues, and nations.


The Easter event is huge for us Christians because it announces everything good that our faith looks forward to. Easter is the mystery of our salvation which filled with Christ’s glory. Easter brings newness. Easter eliminates fear, sadness, confusion, anxiety, hopelessness, timidity, and selfishness. Easter ushers in confidence and courage, injects boldness and zeal. Easter invites us to become authentic witnesses. At Easter, we experience the WHAT, HOW, and Why of our faith. The “what” is the great news of our baptism. The “how” is that we are invited to bear this witness with hope in the resurrection. The “why” is that this good news transforms us. Let us join the disciples in spreading the gospel. Like Mary, we should seek Him. We should declare Him. We should proclaim Him. We must take the message in haste to others.


At Easter, nothing is dead anymore, everything is alive in Christ Jesus. The COVID fever, fear, isolation, and spiritual distancing is all dead. The Easter joy overshadows the harsh, cold, dry impact of the mask on our faces. Christ’s resurrection replaces the dry mask with warmth and compassion. Christ is risen and we should rise with him. Let us begin to build the faith-connection like Mary Magdalene, Peter, John, and the disciples. Yes, He is risen, and we are witnesses to all that he has done. Amen.


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