Today’s reflection is for Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord, April 12, 2020, and the readings can be found by clicking here.
A friend of mine once asked me, “Are you a believer?” It’s rare that we use that language in the Catholic Church, but in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, that’s exactly who St. Peter says we must be: BELIEVERS. In almost one breath Peter shares the entire Gospel.
He said Jesus went about doing good, healing people, God was with him, and Peter and the apostles were witnesses. He said Jesus was put to death but God raised him on the third day, and again, Peter and the Apostles were witnesses, and they ate and drank with Jesus after he rose from the dead. Finally, anyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins. That’s it. That’s the Good News! Everything else is provided for instruction, admonition, and/or encouragement. What matters is that we believe and rise with Christ. That’s awesome…not easy, but awesome. Do you believe it?
When did you believe and rise? This Easter Sunday, I have a confession to make, although I was baptized as an infant and confirmed in junior high the truth is that even now I struggle to believe. I’m sometimes like the dad whose son was possessed by a demon who cried out, “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief!” (MK 9:24) I’m sort of “already” but “not yet.” I already believe; I’m a believer, but I also admit that I have a long way to go.
St. Paul tells the Collosians that if we were raised with Christ, we must seek what is above, where Christ is seated, and think about what is above instead of what’s down here below. This is why many of us are “already” but “not yet.” We have journeyed through Lent, sacrificed, prayed, and have grown in holiness. I hope your Lent went well! Mine did. With my son, Mark, we layed out a plan to read all four Gospels during these forty days of lent, and this morning I finished the last chapter. We have thought a lot about what is above, but I don’t want to go back to the way it used to be, I want to continue to grow in my faith–and so should you! We’re already there, Christ is Risen! and we rise with him, but we’re not there yet. We must continue to rise.
In the Gospel today, I love that Mary of Magdala saw the empty tomb first and told Peter and John. But apparently, Peter is slow because John made it to the tomb first…but he didn’t go in! He waited and Peter went in first then John went in, saw the burial clothes and believed. No one really understood, but all believed. They believed what they could, with what they had heard, and with what they had seen. The Gospel ends with them still didn’t quite understanding. And so it is with us.
As we begin the Easter season, we need to appreciate that although we believe, we still do not focus enough on Heavenly things. Too often we are distracted by earthly things. I know we cannot always have our head in the clouds, but shouldn’t it be sometimes? Couldn’t we carve our more of our day to thinking about God and learning about Him and his Church? Couldn’t we who believe help our unbelief in various ways?
Like Peter, some of us are a little slower than others, and like John, maybe others a bit faster; Mary of Magdala got there first, but in the end all of them entered the tomb and believed. And that’s what I want to encourage you with today. Do not be afraid to enter the tomb; to die with Christ. Continue to pray, learn, and love, and spend more time thinking about what is above instead of what is on earth below. Die with him. And rise with him. Rejoice! The Lord is Risen! Amen?