In the 1st Reading, the Apostles are teaching the people. What are they teaching? The Apostles saw the Risen Jesus with their own eyes. This 1st hand experience that Jesus had risen from the dead transformed their lives.
In spite of all the obstacles and hardships that they faced (such as the jealousy of the religious leaders and imprisonment described in the 1st Reading), the Risen Jesus became the absolute centre of their lives. As eyewitnesses of the Resurrection, they proclaimed boldly that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he has triumphed over death. This is what they taught unceasingly!
Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, says that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the be-all and end-all of the Christian faith. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, all bishops, priests, and Christian ministers should go home and get honest jobs, and all the Christian faithful should leave their churches immediately. If Jesus was not raised from death, Christianity is a fraud and a joke. If Christ’s Resurrection is only a myth, a symbol or a subjective experience, the whole Christian religion falls apart.
But if he did rise from death, then Christianity is the fullness of God’s revelation of love. God’s love has prevailed over the powers of darkness.
Today’s Gospel states: “God so loved the world”. In the Bible, the word, “world” has a very expansive and inclusive meaning. “World” refers to the earth and all creation, but also to all peoples and all societies. That means each one of us, as well as every person we meet, are included in this all-encompassing and all-pervasive love.
God loves us so much that, not only does his Son die for us, not only does his Son take our sins to the Cross and wash them away in his own blood; but more importantly, his Son rises from the dead and destroys death for us. The Risen Lord is now seated at the right hand of the Father and pleads our cause for all time.
The Son of God is not stingy with his love. There are no mistakes in his loving. He loves us perfectly. We have worth; we have dignity! That’s how special and precious we are!
Pope Francis puts it this way: “Let us not keep our faces bowed to the ground in fear, but raise our eyes to the risen Jesus. His gaze fills us with hope, for it tells us that we are loved unfailingly, and that however much we make a mess of things, his love remains unchanged. This is the one, non-negotiable certitude we have in life: His love does not change. Let us ask ourselves: In my life, where am I looking? Am I gazing at graveyards, or looking for the Living One?”
The Resurrection means that Jesus is alive now and is present to us. He is with us today. He is close to us. He is near us at this moment. Therefore, whenever we are in trouble, whenever we have any difficulty of any kind: financial problems, relationship problems, health problems, with great confidence, we ought to call upon Jesus for help, trusting that he hears our cry and that he will respond. This reality is addressed in today’s Response to the Psalm: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor”.
The invitation of this Psalm is to allow Jesus to get involved in every aspect of our life. Particularly during this pandemic, let us bring every thought and feeling to Jesus and ask him to deal with whatever is in our hearts. Let us place all our cares and concerns directly into the hands of Jesus. By these actions, Jesus participates in our lives, and we participate in Jesus.
When we do this, we are like the Apostles: we are making Jesus the centre of our lives. The Lord Jesus himself becomes our very life and light. The “light” to which today’s Gospel refers is not a thing. The “light” is a person, a person who broke open his heart in self-emptying love, and ultimately, a person who has conquered death. When we choose to walk with the Risen Jesus, he pours over us the brightness of his light.
You and I are not eyewitnesses to the Resurrection. However, when we make Jesus the anchor and the light of our lives, like the Apostles, we become witnesses to the Resurrection in our own time.
As our Mass continues, let us thank God for the gift of the Risen Jesus. But, more importantly, let us welcome this powerful gift into our lives and allow it to become an active presence in our lives.
Deacon Roland Muzzatti
April 22, 2020