“The gospels do not explain Easter. Easter explains the gospels.” I cannot remember when and where I first heard those words but I do know that I have never understood the resurrection of Jesus quite the same since I heard them. “The gospels do not explain Easter. Easter explains the gospels.” Everything that the gospels tell us about Jesus is spoken from Easter and the empty tomb. The resurrection of the Lord and the experience of being in the presence of the Risen Christ by those who knew him in the flesh is the lens through which all the words and deeds of Christ have been interpreted. So important is the resurrection of our Lord that St. Paul wrote, “If Christ has not been raised then our faith is in vain.” Remember that Paul never met Jesus of Nazareth during his ministry. He never witnessed Christ working a miracle. He did not hear the Sermon on the Mount. And yet he believed. He fell in love with the Lord whose voice he heard on the road to Damascus and whom he came to know in the Christian community. “Although you have not seen him you love him.” In the end though he had never seen him Paul gave his life for his Risen Lord.
“Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
When the writer of 1 Peter penned those words to the Gentile Christian communities of Asia Minor, he was reassuring people who had never seen or heard Jesus of Nazareth in the flesh, but had come to love and stake their lives on their relationship with him, that their trust was well-placed. They had come to trust that the resurrection of Christ was God’s seal of approval on everything Jesus had said and done. They had come to believe that the ridicule and discrimination they were experiencing as Christians was a privilege rather than a punishment.
Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, once said, “This is the first work of God—that He is merciful to all who are ready to do without their own opinion, forgo their rights, surrender their personal wisdom and all spiritual goods. God is merciful to all who are willing to be poor in spirit.” It is the Resurrection of Christ that makes a life emptied of self both meaningful and joyful.
On this Sunday when we celebrate Divine Mercy I would like to give us a few questions to think about this coming week. They are simply questions to help us take an inventory of the places in our lives where we have been willing to become poor so that we may be rich in God’s mercy. They are questions that may help us to know how deeply rooted our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s ask ourselves:
How have I personally experienced the mercy of God that is expressed in the gift of Jesus Christ? What have I surrendered to possess that mercy?
How have I experienced the love of Christ even though I have never seen him?
Does my belief towards Christ fill me with a joy that is hard to express in words? When was the last time I expressed to someone my love for and trust in Jesus?
Do I believe that I have been named one of Christ’s beneficiaries and that I will receive a part of his estate when I pass from this world? How does this bequest help me to put the things of this world into perspective?
How does Easter explain my life?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,
to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him;
even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.