Well, we have received word that soon we will be able to open the doors to Mass again, though it sounds like there will be some SEVERE restrictions on how we do that. I hope to learn more in the next few days, but I do know it will not happen until after this next weekend. I will share with you more as I understand it.
Acts 2:24 & 1 Peter 1:20-21
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, who through him believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
There was an emphasis in the early church on the Resurrection. This is clear in both the Acts of the Apostles, and in the letter from St. Peter.
But this does not seem to be as readily the case in our modern times. There are far too many people who want to dismiss the miracle of the Resurrection as some made up story set out by the early church to convince people to follow the way of Christianity.
But this is such a ridiculous idea that it becomes hard for us to fight against it. There are far too many people who are ready to dismiss miracles, because they do not trust in anything that they cannot scientifically explain. The real tragedy, as a bit of an aside, is that these pseudoscientific objections to Christianity have come about because of the distortion of the history of Christianity and science.
Without going into a great amount of detail, we would not have modern science if it were not for the church. But if I start talking about that, I will be on too much of a distraction from the main point I want to make today.
That main point is that the early church proclaimed the Resurrection without compromise, or apologies. It was, is, and should be, the number one point in every statement we make regarding the facts of our faith.
The story was told to me of someone who was trying to convince people of communist atheism. He thought he had presented an unassailable argument against Christianity. So, when he finished, he invited anyone up to try to refute what he said. A young Orthodox priest stepped up to the microphone.
The communist, before stepping out of the way, scornfully said to this priest “do not take too long”. The priest’s response to the communist was “oh, I will not take long at all.” He then stepped to the microphone, raised his hands, and said “Christ is risen!” And all the people responded back “He is truly risen!” Where has that conviction of the truth of Christianity gone to today?
In Mexico, there was something similar with that cry of the Cristeros movement: “Long live Christ the King!”
Unfortunately, in our day, in our society, I am not sure anyone would receive the same kind of acclamation to such a simple declaration as “Christ is risen!” or “Long live Christ the King!” So much of our society wants us to put our faith only in the church, and maybe in the home. But to bring it out in the public space, is seen as somehow… not a worthy thing to do. Even President Trump was criticized by some for giving an Easter statement this year.
In this time, when we are limited in our ability to gather to pray, I think it becomes even more important for us to be ready to make these kinds of declarations of faith in the public sphere.
Yes, this led many of the early Christians to their death. It meant many others were outcasts, even in their own families. But Jesus warned us that that was going to happen: father against son, mother against daughter, et cetera. Even families would be split because of the decision to follow Christ, dead but risen. This is the declaration of faith that needs to be heard again in our world.
Yes, there are some other important ideas, but none of them should rise to the level of preaching Christ Crucified and Risen. In some ways, it is our own fault that we have abandoned preaching the Resurrection. We have allowed ourselves as the people of God to be distracted by the things of this world.
What does God’s call to holiness mean? I think, first and foremost, it MUST be as the early church did, namely preaching the Resurrection of Jesus. Without people understanding that, and that this world is meant for us to learn what the Resurrection means, all the other good things that the church does are just social work. Now, I admit, the kinds of social work that the church does are important, but nothing is more important than proclaiming the Resurrection.
This is the eternal message of Easter Sunday, and the Easter season. Please God, help us to return to the primary message of Christ’s Resurrection.