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Resurrection frees us from slavery of sin

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Archbishop Miller writes, "open your hearts to the Risen Lord who awaits you."
by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB

This is an excerpt from an Easter homily given at Holy Rosary Cathedral.

Photo Caption: This 18th Century painting by Noël Coypel, depicts Jesus risen from the dead. When Mary Magdalene saw Jesus alive on Easter Sunday, she could not contain her joy and told the news the Apostles. (

A very warm welcome and prayerful Easter greetings as we gather to celebrate the earth-shattering good news that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead:

No cameras recorded it. No “selfies” were taken as proof that something happened. No journalist was on hand taking notes. But there was startling news on that “first day of the week” (Jn 20:1), that first Easter morning.

Mary Magdalene was there and she reported it to the Apostles, “I have seen the Lord” (Jn 20:18). She was the first witness of the sheer joy of seeing Jesus alive after his ignominious death on the Cross, and she couldn’t contain herself. And how fitting it was that Jesus, who died to save us from our sins, gave this task of sharing this stupendous news to Mary, “the apostle to the Apostles,” the woman to whom he had showed his tender great mercy during his public ministry. Right from the outset, the Risen Jesus is a vehicle of mercy and forgiveness.

Our faith insists that Mary Magdalene’s report of the empty tomb and her encounter with the living Jesus is, in fact, very good news. Indeed, everything we believe as Christians depends upon her account not being just a bit of “fake news” making the rounds in Judea, but true and accurate. St. Paul made this point of the importance of its truth with his customary forthrightness: “If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain” (1 Cor 15:14).

Mary Magdalene believed in the Resurrection. And so have Christians for 2,000 years. She offered her own experience of a conversation with the Risen Lord as her proof. And likewise later the Apostles and other disciples to whom Jesus later appeared – whether in the Upper Room, on the road to Emmaus, on the mountain, or by the Lake of Galilee – backed her up.

But were such appearances of Jesus only delusions in the eyes of the beholder? Were they determined to see things that they hoped for, but were not real? These are questions, which we cannot easily dismiss, because Jesus’ bodily Resurrection from the dead is the ultimate confirmation that his whole life and mission are to be taken with the utmost seriousness. We cannot believe in the Resurrection, and then go about our daily lives as if it didn’t really matter.

All the evidence we have points to the emptiness of the tomb and the reality of the appearances. Jesus had already said and done extraordinary, unbelievable things beyond number. His Resurrection sealed his claim to be the Son of God whose mission was to save humankind, freeing us from our slavery to sin and death, from loneliness and self-reliance, and opening us to a new, more joyful and more abundant life (cf. Jn 10:10).

Our faith stakes everything on the truthfulness of Jesus’ Resurrection. The Resurrection is a historical happening, but it also transcends history, since Jesus appears as one who is no longer bound by the constraints of time and space.

I urge you to open your hearts to the Risen Lord who awaits you. His Resurrection enables him to be truly with us, and not just as a comforting memory of the past. He is active in our here and now, and he invites us to live his way of life, a resurrection way of life.

If we believe that Jesus is truly from the dead, then the way we live should show this. We are, to set our minds, as St. Paul says, “on things that are above” (Col 3:2). What is “above” are heavenly realities, but in his body he is present here on earth – just as he told us – in those who are suffering, marginalized and neglected: the dying who seek our presence and consolation; the unborn children threatened in their mother’s womb; the elderly ignored by their families and abandoned by society. To those to whom we must reach out with the joy of the Gospel and with our helping hand, this morning in Rome the Holy Father in his Urbi et Orbi address added: “those victimized by old and new forms of slavery, inhuman labour, illegal trafficking, exploitation and discrimination, and grave forms of addiction … children and adolescents deprived of their carefree innocence and exploited, and those deeply hurt by acts of violence that take place within the walls of their own home; … all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine and oppressive regimes.”

Even the Risen Lord in glory bore the wounds of his suffering, of his suffering which continues in his body, and which he calls upon us to help heal.


Last Updated on Thursday, 27 April 2017 08:19  

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