“In many ways Jesus is risen not only unto himself but also in the faith of the disciples. … We believe that something indeed happened to Jesus, but what happened is recognizable only when his appearance is recognized with eyes of faith. … Only in faith can the empty tomb and burial cloths lead us to confessing that Jesus is truly risen.”
Questions to ask:
Is Jesus truly risen in the faith we try to live out everyday?
What factors affect my faith in Jesus and my encounters with him?
Who has seen the Lord? How do they see the Risen Lord?
Have I seen the Lord? (seeing, believing, understanding)
Has my encounter with the Lord transformed my life? How?
FAITH ARISES FROM LOVE – John 20:1-10
The disciple who loved believed that Jesus had risen. His was a belief arising from love, not from an appearance of the Risen Lord. The one who loves sees what others do not see – an inner eye, the eye of the heart, the eye of love. Love heightens our capabilities and sensibilities, allowing us to see beyond what is before us as signs and truths.
To say “The Lord is risen.” Is not merely to recite a formula of faith but is also a confession of love. It is the cry of a lover – the one who loves Christ.
Is Jesus truly risen in my love? Do I encounter the Risen Christ in my love? Not only is the Easter season the time to love, it is also the time to purify ourselves in our loving, our incapacity to love, and our infidelities to the call of love.
FAITH COMES WHEN JESUS CALLS US BY NAME – John 20:11-18
Sometimes we are unable to see Jesus because of our blindness, because we are looking for and crying over the dead Jesus. God brings miracles into our lives and yet we fail to recognize them because we are so preoccupied with our own opinions, concerns, and ideals. Mary did not recognize Jesus (she thought He was the gardener) until He called her by name.
Calling us by name, Jesus reveals to us our very own selves. Our faith in the Risen Lord emerges from hearing our name uttered by our Good Shepherd. Every time we utter the name of the sheep entrusted to us by the Good Shepherd, tenderly and affectionately calling them by name, we break the cycle of despair and darkness in their lives. Once again, the Resurrection happens.
The disciples only believed when Jesus appeared to them and showed them his hands and feet. They had to see him for themselves, and only then did they believe what they saw. They did not see Him at first because of their fear. They were afraid of the self-revealing power of Jesus; an encounter with Him reveals us to ourselves.
It is this fear that prevents us from helping others. When we see Jesus, we now participate in the mission of the Risen Christ – to bring life, light, and truth. As God was present in Jesus, so must we manifest the presence of Jesus the Risen One in our daily lives and activities.
FAITH ARISES AND IS STRENGTHENED THROUGH THE TESTIMONY OF OTHERS – John 20:24-29
Thomas was not easily persuaded, he demanded a sign before believing. The testimony and witness of his own friends were not enough. His was a real crisis in trust. Imagine being like Thomas and not relying on the testimony of other people, even your own friends. Will you be able to do anything? For instance, if you do not believe (because you cannot see or touch) in the invisible wireless airwaves, you would not have a TV, a radio, a cellphone, a computer, a telephone!
The challenge before us then is to continuously receive the testimony of other people and to testify courageously and joyfully. Jesus appears in our capacity to share with others our encounters with him. Our faith is also strengthened as we share Jesus and what he has done in our lives with others. We must be both proclaimers and hearers, sharers and enablers (enabling others to share their encounters with the Lord).
FAITH BUILDS THE CHURCH AS COMMUNITY—Acts 2:41-47
The early Church evolved as a community through the simple sharing between proclaimer and hearer. The apostles and disciples were generous in sharing their testimony of how the Risen Christ had transformed their lives. They encouraged those who heard to also be transformed and tell others about the Risen Christ.
The Church arose from the communion between them, and this communion was a communion with God. Thus, the genesis of the Church is a Resurrection event. The birth of a Christian community is a Resurrection event.
If all we know about the Church are the rituals, the Scriptures, the rules, then we do not know what it means to belong to a Church. To belong to the Church or to a Christian community is to claim that you have a relationship with others centered on the experience of the Risen Lord – testimony given and testimony received.
This brief presentation has been adapted by Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila, from the text of Chapter Two of Bishop Tagle’s book An Easter People: Our Christian Vocation to be Messengers of Hope (Jesuit Communications Foundation, Inc., Q.C., c2003)