By Archbishop Colin Johnson
“Alleluia! Christ is risen!”
So what? Does it matter?
For Mary Magdalene in the garden of the tomb of Jesus, it changed everything – her tears wiped away, her name spoken in love, her life’s purpose re-directed. For Peter, his blurted affirmation at the Mount of Transfiguration, “You are the Messiah,” was vindicated, his cowardice and betrayal were forgiven and healed, and he was re-commissioned for mission and leadership. For Paul, the experience of Christ’s resurrection gave strength to overcome personal suffering and insufficiency (his thorn in the side) to speak of the love and power of God in Jesus to bring life to all and reconcile them to God.
For countless millions of men and women over two millennia, the resurrection has mattered enormously. I have witnessed people whose lives transformed from bitterness and fear, opened up in charity and purpose because of Christ. I have watched people whose lives have changed when they have read the Gospel for the first time and discovered themselves participants in the great story. I have seen people literally leap with joy as they received the water of baptism and flourish as they are fed on the sacramental bread and wine of Christ’s life-giving body and blood. I have seen distraught, suffering people calmed by the balm of the oil of healing. I have seen the dying achieve dignity and peace in their last moments in the comfort of the promise of the resurrection.
Yes, there have been others who have inflicted great pain and suffering, abuse and death in the name of their faith in Christ. Yes, I have met people who have narrowed their minds and hardened their hearts in unrighteous anger and intolerant rigidity as their chosen response to the new life offered in Christ. Yes, I have met people apparently unaffected by scripture and sacraments, indifferent to ministry and unwilling to serve. But for the life of me, I do not see in these the reflected faces of the early witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus.
The sacred text is uniform in recounting the sometimes sudden, but more often gradual, transformation of the lives of those early witnesses to the resurrection, revealing some or all of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Or to expand the list somewhat: courage, fortitude, perseverance, creativity, self-sacrifice. They are in touch with life.
Is the resurrection of Jesus real? Is it important? Does it matter? Unequivocally, yes! Christ is risen! God has acted. Life is offered. We are changed. Alleluia!
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