We reflect today in the shadow of the resurrection; but we pray, too, in anticipation of Pentecost (May 27th) and the outpouring of God’s spirit upon the Church and the world. The Easter sacrament is always with us. The resurrection is vital to Christianity. As St. Paul noted; “If Jesus had not been raised from the dead, all is in vain.” Indeed, the resurrection is the event, the mystery, around which the Church herself grew. It is central to our belief as women and men who call ourselves “Christian.”
The centrality of the resurrection and our belief that God raised Jesus from the dead, gives Jesus the credentials and the certification that no other religious leader possesses. It has been noted “that Buddha is dead. Mohammad is dead. Moses is dead. Confucius is dead. But according to Christianity, Christ is alive.” And that makes all of the difference. Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope for eternal life beyond the grave. That realization should inform and craft our words and actions. That hope is present as we live out the time between the Easter vigil and Pentecost—“it is the occasion for the spirit-giving renewal of life.”
The results of that certitude and the vitality of the Spirit are evident in today’s readings from the Acts of the Apostles and John’s Gospel. This certitude shapes our efforts to build community and empowers us to live out the great commandment “to love one another.”
In Acts, the Apostles and others recognize it is the Holy Spirit that is the animator and crafter of the early Christian communities; the bond that molded a new and emerging community out of the followers of Jesus; just so today. The Church is seen more and more as a community in which each person has different gifts, all of which are necessary and important. The Spirit speaks and acts through all of us to a greater or lesser degree. Each of us has a role to play, gifts to give, and love to share. Realizing this we can, like the early Christians, “be delighted” within our local community; a community centered on the risen Christ. And everywhere the risen Christ appears, the Spirit breaths upon us, Christ’s astonished followers.
Through the Easter Jesus we are invited to enter into a special relationship with the God who raised Jesus from the dead. We become one with God in his covenant community. Jesus reminds us we are no longer slaves, but friends. Jesus reminds us, we have not chosen Jesus, but Jesus has chosen us, each of us. And because of our membership in the community of the risen Christ we have been appointed to go and bear fruit; that is to say, to be productive in building God’s kingdom on earth. And the first rule of that kingdom, the first directive for this post-Easter venture, is to imitate the risen Lord and follow His command: “to love one another.” In doing that we each become, in the words of the Jesuit poet Hopkins, “What Christ is, since He was what I am…immortal diamond!”
Suspended as we are between the celebrations of Easter and Pentecost, we possess a love that is stronger than death as we await the Spirit’s renewing powers that will transform the face of the earth. What heady days! What happy times! What a fortunate place to be! Let the joy of the resurrection resound within each of our hearts and within our communities. Again Hopkins: “Let Jesus Easter in you.”
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