In Nebraska the natural world is shaking off the dormancy of winter. Daffodils, tulips, and cherry blossoms sport carnival colors against the newly greening lawns. The sounds of the song birds of spring, shout at us that we are alive and that God is alive! God is afoot among us. It is Easter!
We approach today’s reflection in the afterglow of the Easter vigil. In song, word and symbol the church celebrated the faithfulness of God; celebrated our redemption through the death and resurrection of the Messiah; celebrated the beginning of our life as Christians. Who cannot acknowledge that “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.” And as today’s Psalm proclaims: “O Lord, our Lord, how glorious is your name over all the earth.”
Heady stuff, but also substantive stuff! As the church year progresses, the essence of Easter continues in our Easter faith. While Easter faith remains at the heart of the Christian church, Easter faith is also a personal faith. It is a belief in Jesus as the risen one, as the Lord of life. The risen Jesus is the savior and the Lord of history. Jesus’ words can be believed and Jesus’ deeds can be imitated. To live Easter faith is to give witness to the resurrection. We live out our vocation as Christians when we witness to God’s presence in our life and in the world. Just as Peter and John, in the passage from the Acts of the Apostles, testify that “The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.”
The reading from the last chapter of Luke’s gospel, speaks to the heart of every vocation. In acknowledging that Christ died and rose on the third day and that repentance of sin would be preached in His name, Jesus concludes “You are witnesses of these things.” So, we have our marching orders as did all Christians who came before us.
Jesus’ directive is echoed in the decrees of Vatican II: “Each individual layperson must stand before the world as a witness to the resurrection and life of the Lord Jesus and as a sign that God lives.” Wow! Short of martyrdom, how do we witness in this world of contrary noises and challenging beliefs?
We are all signs of God’s kingdom, signs to the world—salt for the earth, light for the world. The resurrected Jesus inaugurates a new way of being and a new way of living. We are called to make present God’s love and compassion for all peoples. Christians can witness in infinite ways, most without even knowing it, simply by leading lives guided by Christian values and committed to service.
Easter faith should penetrate the believer’s entire life, including the wordly dimensions, and activate us towards justice and love, especially towards the needy and the oppressed, the immigrant and the marginal. Like Peter and John in Acts, the Christian is sent by Jesus, gifted with the Holy Spirit, to continue showing forth Christ through service. How you serve and whom you serve, is up to you. Without service, however, we are failing our Christian mission and failing at our calling to be witnesses “that God lives.”
As Easter believers we must do our part to nourish the world with the spirit of the risen Lord. We must be animated, vocal, deliberate crafters of a more just, loving, and humane society.
It has been said that “…what the soul is to the body, let Christians be to the world!” To accept that and practice that is Easter faith lived LARGE!
Alleluia, alleluia, He is risen as He said, alleluia!
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