Easter: “HE IS RISEN!”

He is Risen! This simple phrase encompasses the most important event in the history of the Universe. He is Risen! The King of Kings and Lord of Lords Who died on the Cross for us has been restored to life! Those who were present during the events of His Passion and Death could not imagine that recovery from such torture and death was possible, as reflected by the almost universal skepticism with which that news was received—St. Thomas being the ultimate example of that. Even though the Lord Jesus Himself had prepared them for the Resurrection, both by events like the Transfiguration and by repeatedly teaching them that He would Rise, it seemed too good to be true. Yet here He was, speaking with them, eating with them, sharing His life with them. He is Risen!

For the Apostles and other disciples this became the heart of their message, that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords was crucified for us, died, and was raised from the dead. This was the truth that they were encouraged to deny and that because this truth burned in their hearts, they refused to deny, choosing to die for that truth rather than deny it.  This provides one of the surest expressions of the truth of the Resurrection—that the Apostles and the other disciples were willing to die rather than deny it.  People may choose to live a lie, especially if that lie provides for them something important, e.g. wealth, power, etc., but why would anyone die for a lie—especially a lie that only earned for them torture, deprivation of property and freedom, and ultimately death?  They died for it because they absolutely believed this proclamation to be true: He is Risen and they themselves, personally, had seen Him, Risen from the dead.

Could they simply have been mistaken, experiencing some mass hysteria? Could they have wanted it to be true so badly that they just psychologically manufactured the event? Clearly not, given the fact that, as their initial reactions to the Resurrection indicate, they believed it to be impossible. They were psychologically disposed to deny it, not to simply imagine that it was true. Also, when they began to preach it and were brought before the Sanhedrin, they displayed no such psychotic behavior that evidenced ongoing mass hysteria. Just the contrary, the Sanhedrin is amazed that these simple fishermen are speaking with such assurance and confidence about this amazing truth: He is Risen. They weren’t crazy, they weren’t lying; He was truly Risen and they knew it.

It would seem that at that point they were ready to go out and proclaim to the world that He was truly Risen from the dead. But no, they were told to wait in the city until they were clothed with power from on high, and then they could truly be His witnesses. This must have initially struck them as odd, since what else did they need to be witnesses to the Resurrection besides having actually seen Him Risen from the dead?  But they obeyed, and after the Fire of Pentecost transformed their lives, then they understood why that power was necessary for them to fully be the witnesses He had called them to be. The miracles that accompanied their proclamation confirmed its truth and gave more and more people reason to accept it as true. Their proclamation goes forth, fueled by a divine Fire that could never be extinguished, not even by the persecution and deaths of those first witnesses. They passed the torch of that proclamation to succeeding generations, right down to us, who are also invited to yield to the Fire of Pentecost that we too could proclaim to a world in darkness that the true Light is shining. The ultimate joy and responsibility of everyone who considers themselves to be disciples of the Lord Jesus is to proclaim, by word and deed, that He is Risen! Alleluia!

—Fr. Ed