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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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