DO YOU LOVE ME?
This Easter Sunday we are commemorating and most importantly sharing in the greatest event in the entire history of the world. It is our celebration of the risen and resurrected Christ, a phenomenon that occurred over two thousand years ago. This single miracle represents the very foundation of our faith for without it there would be no belief in Jesus Christ, no belief in salvation, and therefore no belief in our own resurrection from the dead. 1Corinthians 15:14 teaches, If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is also in vain. For with His resurrection, He opened the door to our salvation and made it possible for all to enter His Fathers kingdom.
The events preceding the crucifixion show the cruelty and absurdity of men, their arrogance and pride, their unbending egos, the blindness to truth, jealousy and the injustice imposed upon Christ. In spite of what man sought to do, Christ is still the living affirmation of what we believe and the fact of the risen Jesus has prospered without dispute throughout these centuries. For when the tomb was opened on that third day following the agony and death of our Lord, its emptiness was a strong testimonial and gave credence that Jesus is eternally alive and lives in glory just as He promised. All that He said came to pass, a confirmation signifying the reality of His teachings and His love.
The center of this celebration is not the crucified Christ, the suffering or the agony He endured at the hands of those who would not accept or believe in Him. It is in the resurrection; foretold by the prophets in the Old Testament. It is the culmination of all Jesus told us would happen. Without this monumental event there would be no eternal life. But we Christians who love the Lord will always feel sorrow when we visualize the clanging of the hammer that nailed our beloved Jesus to the cross. These things will echo in our hearts forever, reminding us of the price He paid for our salvation.
We cannot, however, smugly place total blame on those who condemned and crucified Jesus without looking within ourselves to see if we are continuing to sin or turning our backs on what we know is wrong in the sight of God. If we sin without asking for forgiveness, we are no better than the Pharisees, the high priests, the Roman Centurions, or Pilate who were among the central cast in nailing Him to the cross so many years ago. Therefore the joyous celebration of the risen Christ is a wake-up call to take up our crosses and follow in His footsteps with the confidence He inspires in us as Christians. With Him leading and giving us strength we become shareholders in the kingdom of Heaven. Because of Jesus this is now possible and within reach. With this resurrection He is telling us, Salvation can be yours. Claim it!
On Easter We Christians relive this Divine revelation. We believe in it. The emptiness of that tomb, the eyewitness accounts and the many other happenings speak loudly to our souls and continue to be at the foundation of our faith. Feeble arguments woven around the authenticity of Jesus rising from the dead have been reduced to rubble and the truth of it remains impossible to defeat. Learned men throughout the ages have tried to break this belief with no success and skepticism sometimes has been replaced with humble faith.
We have so much to be eternally thankful for on this joyous occasion. Christian Catholics know it is not about dressing up in beautiful Easter clothes to show off at Mass or eating a great holiday feast. These things are wonderful but secondary. What is important is the glorious realization that all Jesus taught was true; Easter is a heavenly promise to us of our own resurrection to eternal life. When Jesus died, all our sins died with Him. Christ rose from the dead in exultation as we Christians will also be raised up when He returns to claim us.
All of us, although made in Gods image fall short of what we should be. We must not let that deter us for this is why Jesus paid the price by dying for us. Even St. Peter whom Jesus loved had his moment of sinful mortality by denying Jesus in the courtyard of Caiaphas the high priest as Jesus was tried for crimes He did not commit. But St. Peters denial of the Savior was forgiven at the cross. His sin price was paid and he went forth to gain many souls for Jesus.
Christ prophesied in these words to St. Peter found in Matt: 16:18: And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the Gates of Hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (the name Peter or Petros means rock). Then in John 21:15 after His resurrection, Jesus asked: Simon Peter, son of Jonah, do you love me? to which Peter replied, Yes, Lord, you know that I love you Christ said to him Feed my lambs. And He said to him a second time, Simon Peter, son of Jonah, do you love me? And once again St. Peter replied, Yes, Lord, You know that I love you and Jesus said, Tend my sheep. Then He questioned him a third time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me? And Peter said again Lord, you know all things; You know that I love You. Jesus replied, Feed my sheep.
And so, the sacrifice of the crucifixion and the triumphant resurrection continues to live. It is stamped valid for all the ages. Like the disciple St. Peter we too have our work to do to keep this wondrous miracle alive until Jesus comes. If we love Him as we say we do we will share the good news of Easter with all Gods people. When we pray saying, Yes, Lord, I love you we must be willing to obey when we hear Him reply Feed my sheep.
Happy Resurrection, everyone!!