He Had to Rise
(Easter: Acts 10:34-43; Colossians 3:1-4 ; John 20:1-9)
At the end of today’s Gospel, John states clearly, “They did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” In fact, as the readings during the Easter season will often show, most of the disciples did not believe Jesus had risen until he revealed himself.
Let us put ourselves in Peter’s place in the empty tomb. What are we to make of what we see? Nothing here makes sense. For example, if Jesus’ body was stolen, why would a thief fold the burial cloths?
Then let us join Peter as he appears in the first reading. By this time in the Acts of the Apostles, Peter has been boldly proclaiming the risen Christ to the Jewish people, and many have believed. But here he is preaching to a devout God-fearing Roman centurion, along with his family and friends. Now Peter is a witness, not of an empty place of death, but of the fullness of life, for everyone.
St. Paul, writing to the Colossians, reminds them, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” As a witness, he certainly practiced what he preached.
At La Salette, the Beautiful Lady made witnesses of Maximin and Mélanie. We follow in their footsteps, reminding people of the transforming power of the crucified and risen Jesus. What Peter says of himself and his companions applies also to us: “He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”
John writes that Jesus “had to rise.” This goes beyond announcing the historical event. For without his resurrection there is no victory over death. There is no victory over sin. There is no salvation. There is no restoring of the covenant relationship with God.
If modern social media had existed at the time of today’s Gospel, imagine what was being posted about the empty tomb! If the burning faith of Peter and the others existed today, imagine what prophets we might become in this present age!
Fr. René Butler, M.S.