Reflection: Witnesses of the Resurrection

The Resurrection of the Lord marked a radical new beginning in the history of humankind. That special event, which is related to the first day of creation (Gen 1: 1-5), is the foundation of our faith and discipleship.

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews; Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you”. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you”. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20: 19-23)

The experience of the disciples on the first day of the week (Sunday) is renewed for us every Sunday especially in the celebration of the Eucharist. The Risen Lord does for us what he did for his disciples, namely: He comes in our midst through the brothers and sisters who are gathered in his name and through the one who presides at the celebration.

He is present in his Word that is proclaimed and, last but not least, he is present in a special way in the consecrated Bread and Wine that become our nourishment for living the Christian life to the full during the week. He gives us his peace. Like the disciples who betrayed and abandoned the Lord, we might have failed in our Christian life, but every Sunday the Risen Lord offers us his peace, forgiveness and strength to live in communion with him and one another. We experience peace when we discover how much we are forgiven and loved by God.

He shows us his hands and side and feet. The apostles had not witnessed the passion and death of their Master. Only John was there with Mary and some women. Now the disciples are given the opportunity to see the signs of Christ’s passion and death, the signs of his great love for us. Like Thomas, we, too, contemplate the great love of the one who has given his life for us his friends. God’s love, revealed in Christ, is more powerful than evil and sin. God’s love will triumph at the end of time.

He bestows upon us the Holy Spirit. The Risen Lord gives his apostles the great gift of the Holy Spirit. The Risen Lord ‘breathed’ on them just as God had breathed life into Adam. We too are filled with the new life of the Spirit especially when we receive the Body and Blood of the Risen Lord at Holy Communion.

He sends us to be witnesses of his forgiveness. The encounter with the Risen Lord dispelled the doubts, fears and incredulity of the apostles. Empowered by the Spirit they were able to be true witnesses of the Resurrection and, through their life and ministry, they brought the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The encounter with the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, marked the victory of forgiveness over revenge and hatred. We too are empowered by the Risen Lord to be witnesses of his forgiveness, to continue his mission of healing and peace wherever we are.

We celebrate Sunday because of the Resurrection of the Lord and we do so not only once a year at Easter but on a weekly basis, in order to deepen our awareness of the presence of the Risen Lord and his Spirit in our life. We are witnesses of the Resurrection when, full of joy and hope, we commit ourselves to create a more human world.

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