He is risen from the dead! That is the good news the women announce to all Jesus’ disciples today. God has raised him from the dead is the more precise news Peter announces, in line with the story that dominated Jewish life at the time. God punishes the unrighteous with eternal death, the story relates, and rewards the righteous with resurrection. God has rewarded Jesus with resurrection and, therefore, Jesus is righteous, faithful to the word of God in Torah. By raising Jesus from the dead, God put his stamp of approval on all the words Jesus spoke and all the deeds he did. God has raised him from the dead, believers rejoiced. We have a way to righteousness, they concluded: follow Jesus.
The focus of Jewish life was to be faithful to God’s word in Torah; that was the way to righteousness. Once they believed God had raised Jesus from the dead, his disciples had no more doubt: Jesus was the way to righteousness, the way that led to truth and to eternal life (John 14:6). To achieve righteousness, all they had to do was follow Jesus. When the invitation "Follow me" was issued to Peter and Andrew, "immediately they left their nets and followed him" (Matt. 4:19). But, Pope John Paul points out, that "Follow me" is an invitation issued not only to Peter and Andrew but also to every disciple of Jesus. He insists that, if I think that invitation is issued only to Peter and Andrew, if I do not hear it today and respond to as they did, then I have completely missed the point.
The Christian message is clarified today. God has raised Jesus from the dead; Jesus is righteous; follow him, pattern your life after his. Treat people justly and lovingly; feed the poor; clothe the naked; house the homeless; comfort the grieving for whatever reason; forgive the sinner; be reconciled with your enemy; be open to all, especially to those who are most despised and rejected; respond in service to need wherever you see it. Today, of course, I rejoice that God raised from the dead. I also pray I will incarnate that joy in my actions, for it is always "by their fruits you will know them" (Matt 7:16,20). Please join me in my prayer.
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