Archive for category Easter

John 20:1-9 The Empty Tomb (Easter Sunday)

Today, the Christendom celebrates Easter, the feast of all feasts in the life of all Christians. Because of Easter, Christianity becomes a religion of joy, hope, victory and new life in Christ. St. Paul clearly affirmed the singular importance of the Resurrection in declaring: “If Christ was not raised, your faith is worthless” (1 Cor 15:17). This means that if Christ is not risen, Paul and all Christians would “then be exposed as false witnesses of God, for we have borne witness before Him that He raised up Christ” (1 Cor 15:15). In brief, if Christ be not risen, we are all idolaters! But the truth is: Christ is risen!. Indeed “This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it” (Ps 118:24).

There are at least five meanings and salvific relevance we can attach to the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead:

First, his resurrection confirmed everything Christ has done and taught. It fulfilled both Jesus’ triple prediction of his Passion, Death and Resurrection in the Synoptics (cf. Mk 8:31; 9:30; 10:32), and his triple prediction of being “lifted up” in John’s Gospel (cf. Jn 3:14; 8:28; 12:32). Christ’s exaltation vindicated all he claimed to be, as he himself asserted in his trial before the high priest (cf. Mk 14:61f; CFC 621).

Second, through his Resurrection, Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies promising a Savior for all the world (cf. Ps 110; Dn 7:13). The history of God’s self-revelation, begun with Abraham and continuing through Moses, the Exodus, and the whole Old Testament, reached its climax in Christ’s Resurrection, something unprecedented, totally new (CFC 622).

Third, the resurrection confirmed Jesus’ divinity. St. Paul preached that Jesus was “designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:4; cf. Phil 2:7-8). Upon seeing the Risen Jesus, Thomas cried out, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28; CFC 623).

Fourth, Christ’s death freed us from sin, and his resurrection brought us a share in the new life of adopted sons/daughters of the Father in the Holy Spirit. “If then we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him” (Rom 6:8; CFC 624).

“Finally, the Risen Christ is the principle and source of our future resurrection” (cf. 624). Jesus’ resurrection is a source, a proof, a guarantee, and a pledge of  a future glory. “He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all thing into subjection to himself” (Phil 3:21). “In Christ all will come to life again” (1 Cor 15:22).

By itself, the tradition of the “empty tomb” does not prove anything. But when linked to the Risen Christ’s appearances, it is confirmatory of the resurrection (cf. CCC 640). Let us remember, however, that appearances did not remove all doubts nor the need for faith (cf. CCC 644). Some doubted that the one who appeared was really Jesus of Nazareth, others he was the Christ. A real change of heart, a conversion, was needed to “see” the Risen Christ as the Apostle Thomas and the Emmaus disciples clearly show (cf. Jn 20:27; Lk 24:13-35). Matthew describes how “those who had entertained doubts fell down in homage” (Mt 28:17). This confirms the fact that faith is truly a gift. “No one can say: Jesus is Lord,’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3). St. Thomas Aquinas explains that “the apostles saw the living Christ after his resurrection with the eyes of faith: (ST, III: 55, 2 ad 1m).

Yes, since Jesus was risen from the dead, more reasons and meaning for us to heed his call for conversion, faith, and discipleship.

Think about it: “The redemption which our Lord carried out through his death and resurrection is applied to the believer by means of the sacraments, especially by Baptism and the Eucharist: “We have buried with him by baptism and death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we might walk in newness of life” (Rm 6:4). The resurrection of Christ is also the rule of our new life: “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not things that are on earth” (Col 3:1-2). Rising with Christ through grace means that “just as Jesus Christ through his resurrection began a new immortal and heavenly life, so we must begin a new life according to the Spirit, once and for all renouncing sin and everything that leads us to sin, loving only God and everything that leads to God” ( St. Pius X Catechism”, 77).

 

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Mt 26:14-25 The betrayal of Judas

“The story is told again of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. This time the account is from Matthew. We must listen again and let it pierce our hearts. Before the Passover Judas goes to the authorities and asks what they are willing to give him if hand him Jesus over them. This is a business transaction, a deal. Jesus is a commodity, and money changes hands. 

Meanwhile, Jesus is making his own plans for the Passover meal, sending his disciples on  ahead into the city to arrange a house for a dinner. An anonymous donor lends Jesus his house. And dinner begins. As it grows dark, Jesus speaks: “I give you my word, one of you is about to betray me.” The rest of the group is distressed and each asks Jesus the same question: “Surely it is not I, Lord?” Jesus replies them with this harsh word: “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is he one who will betray me.  The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born” (Mt 26:23-24). 

It was a custom among the tribes for either host or guest, or one of two close friends, to take a piece of  bread or meat and dip it in oil or wine and feed it to the other as a sign of closeness, of kinship. In fact, once a person had eaten at the  table in a Bedouin’s camp and shared food he literally was considered kin for the seventy-two hours that the food shared was in his body, bound even closer than by blood ties. Judas takes the food, and even bound as close as that to Jesus, he intends to betray him.” (Megan Mc Keena, Lent 1998, The Daily Readings, Orbis Books Maryknoll). ). By doing so, Jesus successfully shows to his disciples the horror of betrayal (committed by Judas) in the face of his act of hospitality (see JBC 61:176). Here the treachery of Judas is seen at its worst. He must have been the perfect actor and the perfect hypocrite. If the other disciples had known what Judas was about, he would never left that room alive. 

Table fellowship is a celebration of friendship and oneness of mind and heart.  Hearing Jesus accusing one of them being a traitor is indeed disturbing and shocking. Trying to lift the veil of gloom caused by Jesus’ words, each tried to assure him by asking, “Surely, it is not I Lord? Note that they address Jesus as “Lord,” a title that expresses their acceptance of the power of Jesus over them. 

In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the ineffable Hebrew name YHWH, by which God revealed himself to Moses (cf. Ex 3:14), is rendered Kyrios, “Lord.” From then on, “Lord” becomes the more usual name by which to indicate the divinity of Israel’s God. The New Testament uses this full sense of the title “Lord” both for the Father and –what is new-for Jesus, who thereby recognized as God himself (cf. 1 Cor 2:8). 

Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord.” This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing (cf. Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al.). At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus. In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: It is the Lord!” (Jn 20:28; Jn 21:7). 

Judas Iscariot is the only one who addreses Jesus as “Rabbi”” which is also used by Jesus’ enemies and critics.  What makes Judas betray Jesus is more than just the love for money. Judas’ belief in Jesus’ person and mission has weakened or ceased altogether. He is scandalized, that is, he stumbles and loses faith in the Master.

“Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: ‘Wage the good warfare, holding faith and good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made a shipwreck of their faith’ (1 Tm 1:18-19). To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end, we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith” (CCC 162). 

Officially, today is the last day of Lent. Our Journey is complete. Now we go to celebrate Easter. Alexander Schmemann, a great liturgical scholar, writes: 

Even though we are baptized, what we constantly lose and betray is precisely that which we receive at baptism. Therefore, Easter is our return every year to our baptism, whereas Lent is our preparation for that return-the slow and sustained effort to perform, at the end, our passage into new life in Christ…Each Lent and Easter are, once again, the rediscovery and the recovery by us of what we were made through our own baptismal death and resurrection. 

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