“We are witnesses of all that he did….”
— Acts 10:34-43
It is not uncommon for analysts of the COVID-19 pandemic to refer to the pandemic of 1918, which claimed many lives.
A couple had the horror of seeing three of their children die from the Spanish Flu. These parents were the directors of the Sunday school in their church. It fell to them on Easter Sunday to read the Gospel of the Resurrection, shortly, after their children's death. There were many tears in the congregation from those who know of their loss. But the parents never lost their composure.
After the Liturgy, a boy said to his father, “Dad, they must really believe in the Resurrection.”
The father said, “Son, every Christian does.”
The boy countered, “But not the way they do, Dad.”
Every Christian professes a belief in the resurrection but how many of us really believe in the resurrection in the same way as this couple? More than any Christian event, the resurrection is one that is always in search of witnesses. It is easier to believe that a baby was born at Christmas than to say that a man rose from the death at Easter. It, therefore, takes an experience of the risen Jesus to be a true witness.
Easter asks us a simple question: what is your experience of the risen Lord? The resurrection happened as a result of God’s power. Easter reminds us that the same power that raised Jesus from the death is at work in us, transforming us into witnesses. This is the promise we received at Baptism. Sadly enough, this promise does not come to much in our lives. As a result, every Easter celebration invites us to newness of life. To what must we die in order to rise transformed? What old yeast of corruption must we cast out in order that we might be fresh dough?
It is worth repeating that Easter is not self-evident; it needs witnesses. Henri Nouwen articulates this well enough:
“The resurrection of Jesus was a hidden event. Jesus didn’t rise from the grave to baffle his opponents, to make a victory statement, or to prove to those who crucified him that he was right after all….
“The world didn’t take notice. Only those whom he called by name, with whom he broke bread, and to whom he spoke words of peace were aware of what happened. Still, it was this hidden event that freed humanity from the shackles of death.”
Therefore, our belief in the resurrection has to be active, if we are to make the joy and peace of Easter visible in our broken world. Our believing should be encountering the emptiness in others and bringing them joy and hope. We should remove the stones that impede the growth and happiness of many.
The challenge is to reflect on any small change, in your life and neighborhood, that can make your celebration a reality.