Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Peter proceeded to speak and said: “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.
Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
Can we imagine the inner thoughts of one Jesus’ disciples when told that Jesus had risen? It is difficult! We have grown up with this teaching about Jesus and accept that He rose from the dead. Christ is risen! This phrase is surely one of the most important proclamations in the life of any Christian. We are invited today, on Easter Sunday, to make this proclamation alive again in our personal lives.
The first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us a short history of Jesus: a man who did good. A person who went about preaching and healing. But those opposed to him hanged him on a tree—that is, they crucified him. And then he rose from the dead in such a way that proved that he was still alive, especially by his eating and drinking with others.
Then, in this reading, comes the most important line of all: everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins through His name.
Easter is about Jesus Christ, true man and true God, who chooses to die for us and then forgives our sins. In our modern cultures, we don’t really believe in sin. Because of that, we often don’t find any need for salvation or for the presence of Christ. Sin has disappeared into psychological explanations of human actions or into discussions of the problems of a person’s childhood or perhaps even into a lack of education.
Often, at a practical level, we all know that we are broken human beings and do not always choose that which is good or that which is best. We recognize that we have conflicting emotions and desires within us—but we do not choose to call that sinfulness. What probably everyone recognizes as sin is a choice against another person or against ourselves that has really bad consequences.
Why spend so much time on sin on Easter Sunday morning? Only because salvation is the forgiveness of our sins! Only because Jesus died to free us from our sins.
We proclaim this morning: Christ is risen! Does it mean anything to us? Perhaps we want to believe in a life after this present one, so we are content that Jesus believes in that life. We need to know, however, that Jesus brings us a possibility of living that new life of the world to come here and now in this life.
It is just there that Christianity is so difficult to live. When I proclaim that Christ is risen from the dead, I also proclaim that I believe that I can live in a new way in this world. What we celebrate today is that Christ died for us! Christ gives us the possibility of living in a new way! Christ invites us to live at a divine level with Him!
All of this only makes sense if we really believe that Jesus is the Christ, that Jesus is God, that Jesus chooses to die for us and that Jesus’ death frees us from death and sin. That is why I am here this morning and I hope that it is why you are here. My life has been changed and I want it changed even more. I want to know Christ and His love and forgiveness at work in my daily life. I want to be like Mary Magdalene in the Gospel and speak personally with the risen Lord! I want to be able to proclaim every day of my life: Christ is risen! May my life become one with His! Alleluia!