Would you believe, the apostles were caught off-guard by the Resurrection! They huddled together in fear, when they should have been rejoicing and shouting from the rooftops! Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, this looks like an obvious point. But the fact is that, although at the Passover Meal Jesus had foretold His return, Resurrexit probably seemed just a word… And let’s face it, what does it mean to us today? Does the Resurrection still have breaking-news effect in our lives?

The world had never seen a resurrection before. No doubt, Jesus had raised three from the dead, but that did not ring a bell in those men of little faith! So, it was not the apostles, but Mary of Magdala who was privileged to first see the Risen Lord. Unable to contain herself, she rushed to break the news to Peter and John, but they simply shook their heads in disbelief. Meanwhile, Jesus appeared to two other Marys and Salome; and in the evening to two disciples journeying to Emmaus. When this duo hurried back to Jerusalem, they found the apostles gathered, all bewildered, in the Cenacle.

According to St John (20: 19-31), the doors being shut where the disciples were gathered for fear of the Jews, Jesus came in and stood among them, saying, ‘Peace be with you’. He had defied the laws of time and space, which probably caused them even more fear. But then, to set all their doubts at rest, He showed them His hands and His side. He bid them to receive the Holy Spirit, and authorised them to forgive and to preach in His Name. This day soon became “the Lord’s Day”, replacing the Sabbath as the day of creation, the Mosaic law and the Pasch; it symbolised a new creation, a new alliance and a new and definitive Pasch. The Gospel account may not be exhaustive, but there is no doubt as to the Church on the horizon.

However, the going was not smooth as it might seem. The Twin has gone down in history as the ‘doubting Thomas’ (St John is the only evangelist to refer to the episode); still, we must not hold it against him, for by the depth of his love he believed, when he met the Lord a week later; by the strength of his bond, he cried, “My Lord and my God”; and by the power of his commitment, he went on an apostolic mission to India. What a lesson for us who doubt – and remain in doubt; ask questions – and seldom seek the right answers! In our jet age, while we pretend to eloquently reason out, we fail to see that faith alone can touch infinity and set us free.

So many holy traditions can be traced back to that Day of the Lord: the peace greeting; the receiving of the Holy Spirit; the sacrament of confession; and the duty to evangelize. Lest these meaningful commands turn into meaningless rituals, it is of the essence to remember that our acts must be soaked in faith. The Lord expects nothing short of a leap of faith, for “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

That is what happened when thousands converted and led good lives in the wake of the Resurrection. The First Reading (Acts 2: 42-47) tells us that the neo-converts “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” By having “all things in common”, they sowed the seed of religious communities; by selling or distributing their possessions, they introduced charitable living. None of that is an injunction against private property, for they did so “as any had need”. But one thing is sure: by refraining from accumulating wealth, they emphasised that our real treasure lies in Heaven. Thus, the neo-converts lived in the joy of the Lord and felt blessed.

That is yet another lesson for us traditional and pedigreed Catholics to imbibe. It is a pity that sometimes we distance ourselves from the Messiah, if not reject Him wholesale. By shameful acts of omission and commission, we put him to a shameful death over and over again. If the Resurrection will not convince us of the divinity of Our Lord, nothing else will. In fact, after He rose from the dead, His divinity was even more pronounced than his humanity.

Thankfully, the Second Reading (1 Pet 1: 3-9) renews our hope. It teaches us that “by His great mercy, we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in Heaven for you.” We may suffer a little while on earth, but that suffering is a purging. We must, through it all, continue to praise and thank God for our Christian vocation.

Finally, Christ being the reason of our being, we must dispel the darkness of doubt and soak in the light of belief. In fact, the Gospel account was written precisely “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His Name” (Jn 20: 30-31). It promises not a naïve and selfish joy of the flesh but a deep and self-giving joy of the spirit, simple and life-giving. This is a marvellous hope that we can all nurture as we renew our Christian life; it is a most wonderful way of being Church.

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