Pastor Column: Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord, April 21, 2019
Msgr. Joseph Tracy, St. Stanislaus Parish
Happy Easter to all!
Felices Pascuas para todos!
Many times when I read the Gospel stories about the resurrection, I notice that they are not primarily about what happened to Jesus, but what happened to His followers. For example, when Jesus appeared to the women, He told them to tell the other disciples to meet Him in Galilee. He told Mary Magdalene not to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father. During the Emmaus meal, when the disciples recognized Jesus, He disappeared. Thomas’ demand to touch Jesus and probe the nail-marks in His hand seems a bit visceral, but all of the stories are not about Jesus, but about the people with whom He interacted. In a way these stories are also about us, about the people who have not seen Jesus, but still believe.
In its original form, the Acts of the Apostles was part of the bigger gospel of Luke. If Luke thought the resurrection was about Jesus, he probably would have explained more about how the resurrection happened. Instead it is about how the Church – as the body of Christ – survived and expanded. Of course, the resurrection made that growth possible, but the main point of that story is the ongoing activity of Jesus in the Church. The evangelists did not offer theological proofs but simple stories of encounters with the Risen Lord.
Do not get me wrong: the resurrection of Jesus is important in itself, and has a value all its own. Even if nothing followed after it, the narrative would be immensely revered. Just as a human fetus has a value of its own even if it is never born, and a little baby’s first words are precious even if she or he never learns to speak well, an event like the resurrection of Jesus has an inestimable value to people’s perceptions and way of life. The point is not to denigrate beginnings but to exalt the importance of their after-effects. History did not end with the World Wars of the last century; history is still happening. Jesus’ resurrection as well was not completed two thousand years ago; Jesus is still dying and rising.
Because Jesus completely immersed Himself in humanity, His resurrection will not be complete until every human person is resurrected. That was one of the original purposes of God’s creation. It his the final goal of God’s providence as well. Though an action accomplished in Jesus by the Father with the help of the Holy Spirit, resurrection is about us also.