Invitation to the Schools of Missionary Discipleship

Jesus Invites Us To Share In The Good News

Jesus’ Mercy Endures Forever

Opening Our Hearts to Receive Jesus’ Mercy

Everything We Need Is Found In Jesus’ Love

Jesus’ Victory Is For Eternity

Msgr. Joseph Prior

The Lord is Risen, alleluia! Alleluia!
He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia! Alleluia!

Malcolm Muggeridge, the late British journalist and author, had an interesting life. In the early 1930’s he spent time in Moscow led there by an enchantment with communism only to find disillusionment. In the 1940’s he spent time as an intelligence officer for MI6. He was an agnostic for most of his early life. In the late 1960’s he found faith and became an Anglican then in 1982 converted to Catholicism. As he grew older, he reflected on his spiritual journey and his faith in Jesus, and his preparation for death:

Plenty of great teachers, mystics, martyrs, and saints have spoken words full of grace and truth. In the case of Jesus alone, however, the belief has persisted that when he came into the world, God deigned to take on the likeness of a man…

 For myself, as I approach my end, I find Jesus’ outrageous claim ever more captivating and meaningful. Quite often, waking up in the night as the old do, I feel myself to be half out of my body, hovering between life and death, with eternity rising in the distance. I see my ancient carcass, prone between the sheets, stained and worn like a scrap of paper dropped in the gutter and, hovering over it, myself, like a butterfly released from its chrysalis stage and ready to fly away. Are caterpillars told of their impending resurrection? How in dying they will be transformed from poor earth-crawlers into creatures of the air, with exquisitely painted wings? If told, do they believe it? I imagine the wise old caterpillars shaking their heads–no, it can’t be; it’s a fantasy. Yet in the limbo between living and dying, as the night clocks tick remorselessly on … I hear those words: I am the resurrection, and the life, and feel myself to be carried along on a great tide of joy and peace.

The joy and peace he experiences is rooted in faith in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead which we celebrate today, Easter. Jesus is risen! He has conquered sin and death through His death on the cross. He rises in his body and has made manifest His victory. His death brings life. Life for each one of us who place our faith in Him who is “the resurrection and the life.”

The gospel account for today’s liturgy recalls the first witness to this Easter faith. In that account, we hear of Mary Magdalen going to the tomb and finding the stone rolled back. He runs to find Peter and the beloved disciple. She tells them about the tomb and they immediately run to the tomb. The beloved disciple gets there first but waits for Peter. Saint John tells us that Peter entered and saw the burial cloths neatly rolled up. The cloth that covered Jesus face was also there but in a separate place. The beloved disciple then goes into the tomb, and Saint John, who well may be that disciple, comments: “he saw and believed.”

Jesus had spent the last three years inviting people to place their faith in Him and to follow Him on the path to life. Although he taught them that this path would necessarily lead to His passion, they never quite understood. For the beloved disciple, this was the moment of understanding, everything came together, his eyes were opened to all that preceded, like the proverbial “light going on in his head.” The darkness of the passion and death have been shattered through the light of faith. Jesus is Risen! He did not have to see His Body, that will come later, the empty tomb was enough. Death has no power over Jesus, He is alive, He is Risen!

Jesus, at times, described his mission as proclaiming the Gospel, the “good news.” The culmination of the good news is what Mary, Peter and the Beloved Disciple encountered in that empty tomb – He is Risen! This is the gospel that we proclaim and celebrate today. Last night in parishes all over the world, men and women were initiated into his saving death through baptism, confirmation and communion. Today all Catholics throughout the world are reminded that we all share in that initiation as we renew our baptismal promises. Saint Paul will later reflect that we who have a share in his death are promised a like share in His Resurrection and Life. His death is our life. While we live in a broken world that longs for peace, the peace we seek is already here, it is within. It is the peace that comes with resurrection. Faith is the key to open the door of peace.

The apostles and early disciples well understood that this gift of life is one to be shared. The first reading from Acts of the Apostles recalls one of the many stories from those early years of the apostles going out into the world to proclaim, invite and share the life Christ won for all. They who first witnessed the resurrection share the good news with others. They describe themselves as “witnesses,” they announce the central mystery of our faith: Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. Death has now power over Him. The Father has appointed Him judge and “everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.” And with that forgiveness of sin comes a share in divine life. As the apostles witnessed with their lives, the good news is not meant for us alone, it is meant to be shared. So we, following the apostles and early disciples, proclaim to the world, “He is Risen,” and we invite others to share in His life through faith.

Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Colossians, exhorts us to live the life Christ has won for us with His life by thinking “of what is above, not what is on earth.” The on-going transition from death to life occurs when we seek the truth and live it, when we move from vice to virtue, when we choose good over evil. Jesus is the source of all that is good. He is the “Way, the Truth and the Life,” and when we follow Him we can be assured that the road we travel is the One that leads to life.

Life is a journey. It begins before we are even cognizant, in our mother’s womb. The life we have been given is a gift. It is meant to be lived well. The journey has many twists and turns, ups and downs, blessings and challenges. The anchor for this journey is Jesus Christ. He walked the journey we walk. He shared the blessings we share. He faced the obstacles we face. Our journey has an end. That end is not death but Life, eternal life.

As we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, we celebrate the gift of life, our life in Christ, and recommit ourselves to living it well.

***

Msgr. Joseph Prior is pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Penndel, and a former professor of Sacred Scripture and rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

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