Peter Paul Rubens
To each and every one of you who have been faithful readers of my Blog, I do sincerely wish you a
HAPPY AND BLESSED EASTER.
In spite of all that is happening in our Country and in the world at this time, the reality is that we live on in the mystery of Christ’s resurrection with the hope that is born of that event more than the hope which is promised to us by mere mortal men.
The mystery of Christ’s resurrection is a real event,
with manifestations that were historically verified,
as the New Testament bears witness.
In about a.d. 56 St. Paul could already write to the Corinthians:
“I have delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve”
The Apostle speaks here of the living tradition of the Resurrection which he had learned after his conversion at the gates of Damascus.
“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ’s body from the tomb could be explained otherwise.
Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrection. This was the case, first with the holy women, and then with Peter. The disciple “whom Jesus loved” affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and discovered “the linen cloth lying there,” “he saw and believed.”
This suggests that he realized from the empty tomb’s condition that the absence of Jesus’ body could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus.
Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles - and Peter in particular - in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning.
As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians anf or the most part still living among hem. Peter and the Twelve are the “witnesses to his Resurrection,” but they are not the only ones - Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the other apostles.
O truly blessed Night, sings the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil, which alone deserved to know the time and hour when Christ rose from the realm of the dead. But no one was an eyewitness to Christ’ Resurrection and no evangelist describes it. No one can say how it came about physically. Still less was its innermost essence, his passing over to another life, perceptible to the senses.
Although the Resurrection was an historical event that could be verified by the sign of the empty tomb and by the reality of the apostles’ encounters with the risen Christ still it remains at the very heart of the mystery of faith as something that transcends and surpasses history.
This is why the risen Christ does not reveal himself to the world, but to his disciples, “to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people”
The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life is above all justification that reinstates us in God’s grace, “so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life.”
Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace. It brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ’s brethren, as Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: “Go and tell my brethren.” We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection.
Rejoice, again I say rejoice, for you have been given a new lease on life by his Resurrection!
[The Catechism of the Catholic Church]