For the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Welcoming the righteous prophet, Our Lord Jesus Christ,…
Opening the Word: You know what happened
Peter begins his speech in Acts with an act of provocative rhetoric. He preaches, “You know what happened all over Judea …” (Acts 10:37).
You know that Jesus of Nazareth preached the Good News.
You know that he was the Anointed One, the Messiah.
|April 4 – Easter Sunday, The Resurrection of the Lord|
Acts 10:34, 37-43;
Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23;
You know that he was put to death as a common criminal, hung upon a tree.
You know that the Father raised him on the third day.
But do we?
Well, of course, we pious believers proclaim. We know. We go to Mass week after week. We know that Our Lord suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, was buried and rose again.
But do we?
St. John Henry Newman makes a distinction between notional and real assent to a creedal proclamation. A notional assent means that we understand the terms of a statement.
But a real assent is different. In a real assent, we recognize how our whole being or selves are implicated by the assent. If Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, then everything must change.
It certainly did for the disciples on the first Easter Sunday morning. Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb early Sunday morning, but it is empty. Simon Peter and the unnamed beloved disciple run to the tomb. They see the burial clothes rolled up the side as if they are not needed anymore.
But holy Scripture tells us that there was no immediate understanding of what happened. Mary is desolate, perhaps believing that the body of her Lord has been taken away by a thief in the night. Simon Peter and the beloved disciple cannot make sense of what has been revealed.
Over the next 40 days, they would learn what it means that Jesus has risen from the dead. They would come to recognize that because of the merciful love of God, the Father raised up the Son.
Death would not have the last word. Love alone is credible.
This Easter season, we are invited to make a real assent to what happened not just all over Judea but even here and now. Christ is still risen from the dead.
In baptism, we share in that resurrection. Our lives are no longer ordered toward death but the fullness of divine life.
Of course, at least to the senses, it does not seem like everything has changed. The pandemic over the last year has been a heart-wrenching reminder that death’s sting still has a bit of power.
Still, let us look a bit closer. St. Paul tells us today that our lives are hidden with Christ in God (cf. Col. 3:3)
Our lives, seemingly mundane and decidedly precarious, have new meaning because Christ is risen from the dead. Even now, I can see it. I can see it in all those who risked their lives to care for the sick during this pandemic, all those who nourished us with the sacraments of the Church, and all of us who sacrificed so much for the flourishing of our neighbor.
Death’s sting has been defeated because we now live as creatures who know that the denouement of death is at hand. If I unite myself to Our Lord Jesus Christ, even my suffering, even my death can become an occasion in which I know more deeply the love of the Father.
The Good News of Easter is that we, like the disciples, have time now to “know” what happened all over Judea.
And to attune our sight to recognize that the echoes of that empty tomb resonate here and now.
Alleluia, he is truly risen.
Timothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D., is the director of education at the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.