Dear My Brothers and Sisters In Christ,
Jesus, the crucified one, has now been raised from the dead. He is risen. Utter defeat has been transformed into irreversible victory. Evil has had its way with God's anointed, the Messiah. It did all it could to break down the courage and fidelity of God's anointed Savior. It exhausted its arsenal of hate, injustice, humiliation, and pain. It fought an impressive, bloody fight - but God's anointed came out victorious. And what does that mean for us? It means everything, absolutely everything. The resurrection is the stamp that validates everything Jesus did and said: His claim to be God's Son, to have authority to forgive sin and reestablish communion between God and man; His universal call to abandon self-centeredness for love of God and neighbor as the path to true happiness; His promise to give grace through a Church that will endure forever.
If Jesus had not been raised, none of that would be worth listening to. He would have been just one more nice guy who finished last, one more dreamer whose dreams were squelched by the harsh reality of real life. This is why whenever people start living against Christ's teachings and example; they always raise doubts about the reality of the resurrection. After all, if Christ didn't rise from the dead, he has no more authority over our lives than Socrates or Confucius or Buddha or Mohammad, or even Dr Phil. But he did rise from the dead. His victory over evil and falsehood and injustice and suffering is total, incontrovertible, and irreversible. In the face of twenty centuries filled with a steady stream of saints, an unchecked growth of the Catholic Church, and an unquenchable Christian vitality, no reasonable person can deny it.
"We are Easter people and Alleluia is our song!" These words of St. Augustine express the joy that comes with this irreversible victory of Easter. This grace is not only joyful, but it is also transforming - it changes lives. Here are two true stories about lives that were transformed by Christ's resurrection.
The first is about a working-class man with almost no education. He tried to make something better out of his humble, poor life, by going to work for a friend who was starting a new company. He was hoping for a new lease on life, but it didn't work out. In fact, his friend was arrested and thrown in prison, wrongly condemned for a crime he didn't commit. In the end, he was brutally killed by a furious mob. The working class man was not only discouraged by this failure, but he was actually afraid that the same thing might happen to him. So he disowned his old friend and, dejected, went back to his former life.
The second true story is about a woman of ill repute who had squandered her abundant gifts. She never got respect, and never did anything to deserve any. A slave to her own sin, she cried herself to sleep night after night. She simply couldn't imagine a better life than the one she was living. Then she met someone who gave her hope - the same man from the first story, who was starting a new business. She also went to work for him, trying to get a new lease on life. But then he was murdered, and her hope was extinguished, like the fragile flame of a candle in the wind. And what happened next?
Well, they found out Jesus rose from the dead - and that made all the difference, for the woman's name is St Mary Magdalene, and the man is St Peter. By putting our faith in Christ, our stories can become just like theirs.