Easter reminds us that the best is yet to come Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Apr. 21, 2011 -- 12:00 AM

A widow told her son she sometimes wished that when she died, she could be buried with a fork in her hand. When he asked her “why,” she explained that at a banquet, the head waitress often requests that we keep our fork because the best is yet to come.

She told her son because of our faith in the resurrection, and God’s mercy, that after death the very best is yet to come — the priceless gift of eternal life. Christ’s resurrection gives us hope of enjoying eternal happiness in heaven.

Shock of the crucifixion

When Christ was crucified on Good Friday, the hopes and dreams of the apostles were crucified with him. They thought that Christ was the Messiah who would drive out the hated Romans.

The shock of the crucifixion was so great that Peter, the leader of the apostles, denied that he knew Christ. He and the apostles ran away and hid because they feared they might be crucified next.

The Risen Lord appears

Then on the first day of the week, Jesus rose from the dead. The signs of the resurrection were the empty tomb, the burial cloth lying in its folds, and Jesus’ appearances. On the same day, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other women, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and to the apostles.

But Thomas was absent. A week later the Risen Lord appeared to the apostles again to show them and Thomas that he had risen. In some of his appearances, to show he was not a ghost, he ate with the apostles and invited them to touch him.

Because Jesus rose and appeared to the apostles and others on Sunday, the early Christians replaced the Sabbath with Sunday. Sunday became known as dies Dominica, “the day of the Lord.” The early Christians celebrated the Eucharist with hope and joy on Sunday. Each Sunday became a little Easter.

Gift of eternal life

In 1 Corinthians 15:14, St. Paul wrote, “And if Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.” By his death and resurrection, Christ overcame sin and death and earned for us the gift of eternal life.

In no. 989 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says, “We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives forever, so after death the righteous will live forever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day.”

In no. 1002 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says, “Christ will raise us up ‘on the last day’; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ.”

Already sharing in the resurrection

Through Baptism we have been intrinsically changed. Even though we are still subject to this world, nevertheless we spiritually share his resurrection by grace.

But our lives will still be a struggle. To share more fully in the life of the risen Lord, we must daily die to self and daily rise to new life. We must also remember that Jesus can raise us from the death of sin in this life. When we live out our Baptism promises and place ourselves in the hands of Christ and his truth, he can transform us into his witnesses as he did the apostles.

Renewal of Baptismal promises

The climax of Lent and the Easter vigil is the renewal of our Baptismal promises. Easter gives us hope that like the widow, the best is yet to be. When we have been faithful to our Baptism promises, after we die, we believe that we will see God face to face in the beatific vision in Heaven. To enjoy the beatific vision in heaven, we must respond to the graces of Baptism and live a Christ-like life.

Let us rejoice as we renew our Baptismal promises at Easter with deep faith. As we do, may we renew our commitment to die to sin and rise to new life each day.

Enjoy a blessed Easter. Christ has risen. Alleluia!

Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus of the Diocese of Madison.