The Word Among Us

Easter 2024 Issue

Experiencing the Risen Jesus

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Experiencing the Risen Jesus: Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Happy Easter! This month, I am delighted to welcome Fr. Mike Schmitz as the guest author for our lead articles. Fr. Mike proclaims the truth of Jesus’ resurrection and the effect it can have on our lives. Pondering Fr. Mike’s articles led me to think about the very first witnesses to the resurrection and what they were willing to endure as they announced the good news.

I thought about St. Peter and the other apostles, who were imprisoned and flogged, and many of whom were martyred (Acts 5:17-42). I thought about St. Paul, who was willing to accept “imprisonments, . . . beatings, and numerous brushes with death” before he himself was put to death (2 Corinthians 11:23). For many of the others, faith in Jesus meant rejection by their families, their neighbors, and their synagogues. And I asked myself, “Why were they so willing to suffer and die? They weren’t getting rich leading this new Christian movement and they couldn’t glory in worldly power. The Church at that time had no money or power.”

No, there is only one reason: they had witnessed Jesus’ resurrection. St. Mary Magdalene announced, “I have seen the Lord” (John 20:18). St. John wrote, “What we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands . . . we proclaim now to you” (1 John 1:1, 3). And with his own ears, St. Thomas heard Jesus: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?” (John 20:29). Encountering the risen Lord changed everything for them.

And for Us. If Jesus actually rose from the dead, then everything he taught must be true. If he defeated death, then all his promises must be trustworthy. And not just for the first believers, but for all of us! As Fr. Mike writes, “If Jesus has conquered death, then he can conquer death in you. And if Jesus promised to never abandon us or forsake us, then no one who belongs to him dies alone. There is no longer anything to fear, just a faith to profess and a faith in which we continue to persevere.”

St. Paul says it even better—sorry, Fr. Mike! He told the Colossians that they could experience the power of the resurrection even while they were still alive. “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God” (2:12, emphasis added). Paul even told the Ephesians that God has already “raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus” (2:6). Somehow, in some hidden way, we are already seated at the throne of God with Jesus!

The resurrection of Jesus gives me great hope. It tells me that if I rely on the Lord’s grace and persevere in my faith, I will one day be reunited with my loved ones who have gone on to be with him. It tells me that, despite all my weaknesses and sins, Jesus’ promises can still prevail in my life! This month, let’s allow our risen Lord to assure us, Blessed are you, my child, for you have believed even though you have not seen with your eyes!

Jeff Smith
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