13 April 2010

Without reservation we must proclaim the Risen Lord!

2nd Week of Easter (T): Readings
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
SS. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

If there were ever a day in our lifetimes to believe the apostle's witness to the resurrection of the Lord, it is today. And not just today but tomorrow as well. And then again tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. If we failed to believe yesterday, or fail to believe even now, today is the day to set aside doubt and worry and choose to believe the ancient and living testimony of Christ's friends. The Lord is risen from the tomb! His grave is empty. Resurexit sicut dixit, Alleluia! This is the solemn witness of generations, of centuries of men and women who have lived their lives and died their deaths, walking the passionate path of Christ's Way. They followed him to Jerusalem and to the Cross. To Corinth, Thessalonia, Alexandria, Rome, and on to Lagos, Las Angeles, Tokoyo, Mumbai, Melbourne, and Moscow. And when and if the time comes, we will follow him out into the stars and plant the church on truly alien soil. Our solemn witness is a proclamation for all of creation to hear: the Lord is risen indeed! Therefore, we must speak of what we know so that all may come to believe.

Jesus himself confirms the necessity bearing witness when he answers Nicodemus, teaching him that all men must be born again in order to enter heaven. When Nicodemus expresses doubt about how such a rebirth is possible, Jesus answers, “. . .we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony.” We speak. We know. We testify. And yet our testimony is not believed. Jesus doesn't argue with Nicodemus, or perform a miracle, or offer a naturalistic explanation for what he knows to be true. Instead, he says, “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. . .so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” How does anyone come to believe if there is no one to give witness? A word cannot be heard unless it is spoken. The Word made flesh and risen from the tomb must be spoken by those who believe, by those who know because they believe.

Among the first witnesses to the empty tomb were apostles, men and women who went out and gave their voices to the truth of Christ's resurrection. Luke tells us in his Acts of the Apostles that these faithful souls founded communities of believers who were of one heart and mind, holding everything in common, they claimed no possessions of their own. Bearing witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, God's grace flowed freely among them and they received His gifts with thanksgiving. From these small, local communities God's Word spread like a forest fire, burning away anguish, despair, and the futile longing for worldly prizes. Thousands were set free in the Spirit and then sent to free thousands more. They bore under the burden of witness, they spoke of what they knew so that all may come to believe. 

Thomas the Twin doubted and Christ showed him the truth. Nicodemus doubted and Christ taught him the truth. Today, perhaps more than any other day in our lifetimes, we too are confronted by doubters, sometimes hostile and violent doubters. Today, the integrity of the Church's witness is attacked from within and without, by doubters among us and doubters separated from us. To the degree that we have failed to bear faithful witness to the Risen Lord, their doubt is our burden to bear. For those who doubt despite our faithful witness, we can nothing better for them them than to remain steadfast in the preaching and teaching of the gospel the apostles have given us. If we remain one body with one heart and one mind, speaking the One Word of God, proclaiming without reservation or fear of rebuke, the integrity of our witness will be invincible. To do anything less is retreat and surrender.

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  1. what???

    we must WHAT???

    what is it I must do for/with/to/?? the Risen Lord???

  2. HA! Thanks, Mom. I was running late for Mass and posted in a hurry.