Easter invites us to be witnesses of the Risen Christ Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Mar. 29, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

A boy returned from Catechism class where he learned about Jesus' resurrection.

During his walk home, he stopped by a religious goods store to study a window display of a huge cross with an image of the crucified Jesus nailed to it. An elderly man who walked with crutches joined him. The man seemed confused as he stared at the crucifix.

Explaining  the crucifixion

Eager to share his faith, the boy exclaimed, "Sir, please don't be confused. I can explain everything. That's Jesus on the cross. He died for our sins. The beautiful lady under the cross is Mary, his mother. She's crying because some bad guys crucified Jesus, her son."

Tears blinded the man as he hobbled painfully away. The boy's faith reminded him of the faith that he once had.

The boy watched him leave; then, he shouted, "Sir, please don't cry. I left out the best part. Some bad guys crucified Jesus; but, his Father raised him from the dead. Now he is in heaven as good as new. He wants to take us there to be with him after we die so we can be happy like him. I can't wait!''

Christ died  and rose for us

On Easter, we celebrate Jesus' resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15:14, St. Paul teaches, "If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then our preaching is in vain and our faith empty."

Each Sunday is a little Easter because Christ rose on Easter Sunday. When we participate in Mass, we thank Jesus for the gift of his death and resurrection.

A priest told me about an artist-sculptor whom he knew who once carved a huge crucifix for a church. When a friend unexpectedly came upon him, he found him in tears because the crucifix he carved reminded him that dying on the cross for our sins represented Christ's great act of sacrificial love. We know that Christ died on the cross for our sins, but this artist never got over being thankful for it.

No greater love

Out of love for us, Jesus died on the cross. In John 15:13 Jesus says, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."

Jesus' love continued when he rose from the dead so that we and others could follow him into heaven as the little boy who had apparently a good teacher testified.

In Acts 10:38-40, St. Peter preached that Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing the sick. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but the Father raised him on the third day.

This is the Peter who deserted Jesus and denied that he knew Jesus! Peter was sorry that he denied Jesus, but he did not despair in his sin, because he knew that Christ had forgiven him.

Transformed  into witnesses

In Acts 10:42, Peter concludes by testifying that "Jesus commissioned him (and us) to be his witnesses, to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and dead."

After they received the Holy Spirit on Easter evening and Pentecost, Peter and the apostles who deserted Jesus on Good Friday were transformed into courageous witnesses of Christ. All except John died for Jesus.

When the Risen Christ appeared to the apostles, they thought they were seeing a ghost. Christ showed them his wounds and ate with them to show that he was not a ghost.

Jesus scolded them for their unbelief; but, thanks to the Holy Spirit, eventually they believed. Everywhere they went, their Easter faith began to work in their lives. Hope replaced depression. Light replaced darkness. Sadness gave way to joy!

In John 6:54, Jesus says, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him upon the last day." Receiving the Eucharist worthily strengthens us to walk daily in Jesus' footsteps through time to heaven.

For believers who live their faith, life is not a grim deadend street with no exit, but the door to eternal life where we will see God in heaven and enjoy a glorified body.

A close friend told me that he can't wait to get to enjoy his new glorified body. His words have deep meaning, because he has been in a wheelchair for many years, had a leg amputated, and has severe spinal problems. He rarely complains about his suffering.

We can be witnesses

Like the apostles and St. Peter, we have opportunities to be witnesses of Jesus each day by word and by example.

Jesus turned the values of the world upside down. We, his followers, are called to imitate him by turning the other cheek, loving our enemies, and living a Christ-like life.

Every day is God's gift to us. What we do with the day can be our gift to God. Each day we have opportunities to share our faith in the Risen Lord by word and example as the little boy did.

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