The Lord is risen! These words are the central belief of the Catholic faith and without them there is no Christianity. It is because of the Resurrection that we can say we are Catholic. No other faith claims that their founder rose from the dead. In Acts 4:33 we read “with great power the apostles bore witness to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.”
Eleven of the 12 apostles were killed because they would not renounce the Resurrection. They lived in a time where you were persecuted for just being a Christian, it’s ironic that we are living in a time that we are being persecuted for being also Christian. We don’t just believe in the Resurrection because we have been told it is so; we believe in the Resurrection because the living community witnessed it (Pope Francis). So, how can this saving event change our lives?
The Resurrection of Jesus is primarily a saving event. In this light Saint Paul teaches that Jesus was “delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25). Its victory over sin and death, sin has no more power over us. It is through His risen life that we are brought into the “newness of life” which constitutes the fullness of our salvation (Romans 6:4).
The Resurrection offers us hope, “because it opens our lives and the life of the world to God’s eternal future, to complete happiness, to the certainty that evil, sin, and death can be conquered” said Pope Francis. It also has power, the power to change our lives no matter where we are in our faith. But this change that we are seeking requires something on our part; we must be willing to change; we must be willing to allow God into our lives to help us change and become better sons and daughters of the most High. The amazing thing about our faith and about our Lord Jesus Christ, is that we can come to Him any time in our lives and tell him “I want to change, please help me Lord.” Now the question is: how do I begin to change?
Change starts with the sacraments, and for me personally it all started with confession. I was consumed with mortal sin many years ago and the two things that changed my life were confession (2-3 times a week) and the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the beginning of all change. The Eucharist is the Resurrected body of Jesus Christ. It is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord and it has power to change us internally and externally. Saint Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians, “it is no longer I that live but Christ who lives in me” (2:20). If Christ lives in me, there is no room for mortal sin; if Christ lives in us, there is only room for grace which He gives us as a gift to live a fulfilled Christian life: “for sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.”
Once the Resurrection changes our lives it is our duties as Christians to spread the good news of the gospel, (Matthew 28:18-20) And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
“We should feel the joy of being Christians,” said Pope Francis. “We believe in the Risen One who has conquered evil and death! We must have the courage to “go out” to bring this joy and this light to all the areas of our lives. Christ’s Resurrection is our greatest certainty. It is our most precious treasure! How can we not share this treasure, this certainty, with others? It is not just for us; it is to be proclaimed, to be given to others and to be shared with others. This is precisely our witness.”
May the Risen Lord bring you joy and peace in your lives and may you share that peace and joy with everyone you encounter.
Jeff Kassab has a BA in Pastoral Theology and is on the board of the Eastern Catholic Re-evangelization Center (ECRC).