“And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be the judge of the living and the dead.” (Acts 10:42)
Dear friends, as soon as Jesus rose from the dead, he immediately gave instructions to Mary Magdalene that the news of his resurrection should be spread to others. “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (John 20:17).
Indeed, our Easter celebration would not be complete if we do not proclaim to the world what we have seen and heard. This is exactly what Mary Magdalene did in our Gospel passage today. She became an apostle to the apostles. This is exactly what we see Peter doing in today’s first reading. In fact, Peter was still speaking when the Holy Spirit descended upon all who were listening. (Cf. Acts 10:44-46)
Do you consider the resurrection of Christ as Good News? Then, do not keep it to yourself, do not assume everyone already knows. Do not keep silent. We may ask, “What is the loudest way to proclaim that Christ has risen from the dead?” It is by letting our actions speak of the light that Christ shines in our world today. The choices we make, the way we relate with others, the kind of words we use, our dressing, our sincerity, our willingness to help and forgive and so on goes to show whether we have risen with Christ Jesus.
St. Paul admonishes in our second reading: “If you have been raised with Christ, set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2). St. Paul goes on to mention how must set our minds on things that are above: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry…. In these, you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:5-10).
In a recent encyclical letter, Christus Vivit, Pope Francis addressing the youths and the Church, in general, said: “Dear friends, I ask you today, do you really believe that Jesus is alive? Then let your very life proclaim your answer.” You will notice that the way you speak of someone when he or she right there with you in the room is always different from the way you speak about the person when he or she is not there. When we continue living in sin, we betray Jesus, we behave as though Jesus is still in the grave.
As you go about your daily activities from today, have a Jesus-is-alive consciousness. Remind yourself constantly of His presence within and around you, put away the works of darkness, take your minds from earthly pursuits and seek the things that are above. Let your life proclaim that Jesus is Alive. Finally, the fact that this year we couldn’t gather as usual in our Church leaves us already with a feeling of dryness and emptiness about Easter but even in our homes, we are called to let our good actions fill up this dryness. Let us show love to everyone we meet today even if it is through a telephone call or an online message. Call someone you are not in talking terms with and offer your forgiveness. Find something to send a gift to today. Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may I rise just like you from death and use me to spread the Good News. Amen.
Do not be Afraid; Say the Truth; Jesus is Alive
“And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.’” (Matthew 28:9-10)
For us Catholics, Easter is not a single day’s celebration, rather it is an eight-day Feast. We call it the Octave of Easter. Today is the Second of these Eight Days and as you would see, our readings this week will centre on the immediate events of Christ’s resurrection.
Upon rising from the dead, the first thing Jesus said to the women he appeared to was: “Do not be afraid…” This is also the message for us today. In the wake of COVID-19, our hearts are full of fear, fear that this lockdown may extend beyond what we can handle, fear that our economy may not recover, fear that we would make so much loss or that business would never be the same again, fear that our civil leaders would not care for our needs but would steal the money meant to alleviate our plights; the list is endless. Try to listen to Jesus today my brother, my sister: “Do not be Afraid.”
Do not be afraid because Jesus is alive. Do not be afraid because our prayers are not in vain. Do not be afraid because Jesus can and would make a way where there seems to be no way. If death could not stop Jesus two thousand years ago, if the strong might of military men (the soldiers/guards) was not enough to prevent Jesus from stepping out of the grave, nothing, not even the corona pandemic can stop Jesus from carrying out His good will and plan for us His children.
Do not let Fear make you close your lips from speaking the truth. The guards went into the city to report the incidence to the chief priests. For the first time, it dawned on them that Jesus was truly God as He said, that they had just killed an innocent man fulfilling everything contained in the scriptures about the Messiah. Still, they couldn’t accept this truth, they sought to bury it because they were afraid of losing face with the people.
The chief priests bribed the guards with money and ordered them to lie a very shameful unbelievable lie; that the disciples of Jesus who were unarmed could overpower the armed guards and steal the body of Jesus. Why did these guards agree to do this? They too were afraid of the chief priests, afraid that if they refused the money, they would not have money to feed their families.
You see? Fear paralyses us. We are easily controlled when we are afraid, all we see are negative outcomes. Ask yourself, “what is it that I am so afraid of that is preventing me from living as a child of light, preventing me from saying the truth or preventing me from shamelessly proclaiming Christ?” Peter was so afraid of beating that he denied ever knowing Christ, three times. That same Peter is the person we see in today’s first reading proclaiming the message of Christ boldly in a sermon that converted three thousand souls at once to the Christian Faith.
What am I so afraid of? Why don’t I just let my light shine? Am I afraid that people will kill me for being good? That people hate me for speaking the truth? We have no reason to fear because Jesus is here. He sees, He knows and He is more than able to defend us. Jesus can provide us with money and food with the twinkle of an eye, we don’t have to condescend to evil or compromise our Christian values because of our quest for the things of this world. Trust Jesus. Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, give me the courage to face my fears especially those preventing me from proclaiming the Good News. Amen. Bible Study: Acts 2:14-33, Psalm 16 and Matthew 28:8-15).