“Christos Anesti!” (Christ is Risen!)
“Alithos Anesti!” (Truly Risen!)
I love this prayer that the Brothers used at our Easter dinner yesterday. Its clear declaration speaks of my belief about Easter. “Jesus is risen. He has smashed the forces of evil ... forever. Suffering, evil and death will not have the last word, either in our world or in our own lives. Whatever suffering or trial may be afflicting you, know that it is not the final word. Jesus is risen! This is the real news, and it is Good News!” –Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, Living Faith
However, despite how comforting and sure these words sound, I feel that often my understanding of Jesus’ Resurrection, more closely resembles the last line from yesterday’s reading in the Gospel of John: “For they did not yet understand the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead.” –John 20,9. I’m afraid I don’t always get it either.
I mean, I do believe that Jesus is risen, because of the many faith-filled witnesses throughout my life who have helped me to see that. And my own experience has taught me that Jesus is truly risen and alive in our world through His Spirit. But I know that my understanding of the meaning of Jesus’ Resurrection has a lot of room to grow and develop (even given that it is a Mystery of faith) I’d imagine a lot of us feel like that.
Fortunately for us, Easter is not yet over. The Church every year gives us time to deepen our understanding during the Easter Season. We have the next 7 weeks, to read and reflect with Jesus in His Word. This week especially the gospel readings will tell us of various accounts of the resurrection. In John 20, Mary Magdalene sees the empty tomb and weeps, thinking Jesus’ body has been stolen. When He stands before her, she mistakes Him for the gardener. The disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 walk with the resurrected Jesus, “but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him,” until the breaking of the bread. In John 21, the disciples do not know that it was Jesus preparing a lunch on the shore. These stories portray characters (like us) who can’t see the resurrected Jesus, even when he’s right in front of them. They are shocked, dense, or unprepared.
All these Gospel characters have an encounter with the risen Jesus. It is never what they expected, and it’s not on their own terms. The authors are suggesting that we ought not look at the resurrection as just a one-time occurrence in the past but as an ongoing reality mediated through sacrament and encounter. We can cultivate our belief in the resurrection and its implications by participating in the sacraments and by seeking out encounters with others. (Of course, for now, the Covid-19 crisis has removed these opportunities.) Still the Season of Easter gives me the next 50 days to read, reflect on, and talk to the Lord about His presence among us. As we pray for each other these days, let us take this Easter time to pray with our truly risen Lord.
From Br. Brice Byczynski, FMS '67