Welcome to everyone who joins us today to celebrate Easter. It is our hope that you always feel welcome here. Recently our Pope wrote an exhortation called “The Joy of the Gospel.” He is a person who exhibits that joy in so many ways. He invites us to know that joy too.
In our first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles we see Peter speaking to the people in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit has filled the hearts of Jesus’ disciples and moved them out of the locked room they were in. Pope Francis tells us that “the Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open.” Just as Peter and those first disciples were asked to be witnesses to what Jesus did and how he appeared to them, so we are asked to be witnesses.
There is no more profound way of witnessing to Jesus than by the example we give. Those first disciples demonstrated that Jesus was alive by demonstrating they were alive in a completely different way. Easter reminds us that something new is happening. Jesus is not the same and we believers are not the same either.
In the Gospel of John, Mary of Magdala’s consistent quest for Jesus’ body was triggered by the false belief of some who hadn’t experienced the risen Jesus and thought that the resurrected body of Jesus was simply the same body he had during the 33 years of his earthly existence. The community did not experience the risen Jesus in this way though, something new was happening. Jesus had been transformed.
As we hear these Easter readings today and through the rest of the Easter season we reflect on how those first Christians came to experience the risen Jesus. How did that experience change them? We also reflect on how we experience the risen Jesus. How does our experience of the risen Jesus impact our lives?
Pope Francis speaks of the way we are transformed by this experience in his “Joy of the Gospel.” “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others…A community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be.”
Being transformed takes time. It requires openness to God’s grace. We must know who Jesus was and also how we experience him now. We must take our experience of Jesus and let people see how that experience changes us in the way we love, in the sacrifices we make, in the way we forgive, and in the way we give.
People will come to know that Jesus is risen because they will see him alive in us.