Easter invites us to share our faith with joy Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Mar. 24, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

Greta Weissman, a Nazi concentration camp survivor, recalls how she and other inmates stood for an hour, waiting to eat some sloppy prison food.

They nearly collapsed from hunger, fatigue, and hopelessness; then, they noticed that in a corner of this horrid, hopeless place, the concrete was broken, leaving a crack. A flower had pushed through the tiny crack.

To those who had nothing, the flower offered beauty and hope. Every morning thousands of feet walking to forced labor or roll call carefully avoided stepping on their precious flower of hope that helped to resurrect their will to live another day.

Jesus teaches us to love

God created us in the divine image. Since God is love, we image God best when we love; but, our ability to love was wounded by sin which led to wars, hatred, and other violence.

Humanity seemed without hope; but rather than condemning us, God, the Father, sent Jesus to teach us to love, redeem us from sin, and offer us God’s gift of Heaven.

In John 3:16 it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish. but might have eternal life.”

Jesus, the Word, became flesh to offer eternal life and peace, not only to Jews but to all humanity. In Galatians 3:28 it says, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free person, male nor female: for, you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Christ came to bring peace and harmony to our relationships with God and others.

Kingdom not of this world

Many Jews hoped that Jesus was the earthly messiah who would conquer the hated Romans and establish a powerful earthly kingdom.

Christ explained to them that his kingdom was not of this world; if it were, his subjects would be fighting to protect him. Instead, Christ allowed himself to be cruelly crucified; consequently, the apostles lost hope.

In Mark 16:1-4 it says, ‘’Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of James, and Salome went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body; but, they discovered that the tomb was empty. The stone had been rolled away.”

Apostles slow to believe

Jesus had risen from the dead. Later, Christ appeared to the apostles and other men and women.

When the risen Jesus appeared to the apostles, they were slow to believe. In no. 643 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it says, “The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the apostles did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection.”

They were so demoralized and frightened that they did not believe the holy women returning from the tomb and regarded their story as an “idle tale.”

Christ showed the apostles his wound scars and ate with them to prove he wasn’t a ghost. Jesus scolded them for their unbelief.

Transformed into courageous witnesses

After the apostles received the Holy Spirit, they were transformed from frightened, confused persons into courageous Christian witnesses.

Everywhere they went, the Easter faith they shared transformed believers’ lives. Darkness gave way to light. Sadness gave way to joy! Depression gave way to hope.

A talented conductor rehearsed a choir for a performance of the Messiah. The soprano sang the words, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” Her singing was magnificent: perfect pitch, enunciation, and voice quality.

When she finished, the choir waited for the conductor’s approval; instead, he stared at her and said sadly “My dear, you don’t really believe that your redeemer lives, do you?”

The shaken singer stammered, “Why, yes, I think so!”

“Well, then sing it in such a way that everyone feels the power and joy of your belief!” he shouted.

Live our faith with joy

The conductor’s words remind us that we are called to live our faith in such a way that everyone we meet will experience our Easter joy. We Catholics believe that life is not a deadend street with no exit, as Jean Paul Sartre taught; rather, when we live our baptismal promises, death opens the door to eternal life. Thanks to Jesus, we believe that though life has its wonderful moments, these are nothing compared to eternal life.

Like the tiny concentration camp flower, Easter lilies are flowers of hope because they remind us of resurrection, the heart of our faith. St. Paul teaches that if Christ has not risen, our faith is in vain.

Easter signifies a rebirth and a new beginning for believers in this life and beyond into eternity. In First Corinthians 2:9 it says, “Eye has not seen nor ear heard nor it entered the human heart what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Each day let us ask the Holy Spirit to empower us to live and share our Easter faith as Jesus desires. Let us renew and live our baptismal promises with deepened faith that reflects our hope of eternal life.

May we be eternally thankful for his Resurrection during and beyond the Easter season. Alleluia! Christ has risen! Let us be glad and rejoice!

Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.