Rising from Ashes on Easter

(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: http://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Mass-Blog-for-Easter-Sunday-2023.mp3)

This Easter Sunday Peter recalls that he and the other apostles witnessed all of their Master’s miracles—except for his final one: rising from the dead. This was the miracle Jesus said MUST happen. They just couldn’t imagine how. Seeing their Master’s empty tomb, they only knew by faith THAT it happened. As Peter tells us, they “ate and drank with him” after he accomplished this feat. Only then were their minds opened to fully absorb the Master’s mission—and theirs.

“He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:34a, 37-43)

We modern-day disciples believe in Jesus because we were taught to recognize him by many names. In addition to Way, Truth and Life, John the apostle also describes Jesus as God’s Word made flesh dwelling among us. As we end another Lent, let’s remember how this season started. On Ash Wednesday we received the sign of the cross on our foreheads and were told, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” That advice is a far cry from when the ashen cross was used to remind us that dust is our destiny. Nevertheless, today, in some parts of this world, believing in the gospel of Jesus is the quickest way to achieve that outcome.

I remember this year’s Ash Wednesday well. Before my family got marked, I watched on TV at home a news program on which the anchor courageously wore HER ashes as she reported the horrors going on in the world. She reminded us that martyrs are still returning to dust for spreading God’s word this way.

Our church also marked Lent’s beginning by handing out a “Little Black Book” full of reflections for every day of Lent. One of them recalled how Jesuit Priest Rutilio Grande and Archbishop Oscar Romero were martyred for preaching the gospel in El Salvador in the 1970s. Heroes like these continue to be living links in the chain connecting us to the woman in Matthew’s gospel (26:9) who anointed Jesus’ head with expensive oil, in preparation for HIS martyrdom. She was criticized for wasting a precious commodity that could have been sold in support of the poor. But her courageous act is still among the gospel truths we continue to dare believing—and living for people of ALL faiths (and none) to see.

On Easter Sunday we celebrate our belief in:
–the WORD of God made flesh;
–being part of HIS life in THIS life.

When we think of HIM, we think of what is above, not of what is on earth. (Col 3:1-4)

As we vicariously visit the empty tomb with Peter and John this Sunday (Jn 20:1-9), let’s contemplate and become like the burial cloth that touched Jesus’ face—set apart from the shroud that covered his dead body. Today those who believe in him are called to be set apart from worldly bodily cares. Set apart also means holy. 1Peter 3:15 tells us to set apart (or sanctify) Christ as Lord in our hearts, and to “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”

Easter marks the resurrection of hope from the ashes of our fear.

–Tom Andel

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