“Easter is the main event. If you don’t believe in the Resurrection, then you’re not a believer.”
A character in a novel says those words. And he’s right.
We are the people of the Resurrection. We are the people of the empty tomb.
In fact, Jesus wasn’t much into funerals, caskets and tombstones at all. Jesus did resurrections, not burials.
So much so, in fact, Easter defines who we are. We believe that Jesus actually, literally, physically rose from the dead. He transformed death into life. Better yet, we believe he will do that for us, too. And that conviction changes the way we live every day. We are Easter people.
Pope Francis said in a General Audience address in 2013,
[T]he Resurrection … offers us the greatest hope because it opens our lives and the life of the world to God’s eternal future, to complete happiness, to the certainty that evil, sin, and death can be conquered. This leads us to living our everyday lives more confidently, to facing each day courageously and with commitment.
In other words, we are Easter people. We know that life conquers death. Grace conquers sin. Courage conquers cowardice. And faith conquers fear.
Do your beliefs in the Resurrection affect the way you live your life? Is there an area of your life that needs resurrection, or needs new life from Christ? A relationship that needs fear to be erased and boldness to be infused? An addiction that has destroyed a part of you or your life? Has greed or materialism snuck in and robbed you of joy? Do you know your neighbors or have you shut them out? Something else?
Spend five minutes each day for three days in prayer for that “fearful” area of your life. Enter the classrooom of silence and listen for how God speaks to you and desires to turn what appears to be dead into the living. Invite God to fill you with the courage and commitment Pope Francis points us toward.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor, was among a group of Christians who stood up to Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. Bonhoeffer helped organize an underground church that refused to obey the Fuhrer. He became well-known for his deep convictions and courage.
Eventually, Bonhoeffer’s leadership decisions attracted Hitler’s attention and landed Dietrich in prison. Finally, he arrived at the concentration camp in Flossenburg.
Even there, Bonhoeffer continued to inspire the men around him. He led prayer, he taught from Scripture and he stood tall against the moral evil of Hitler.
On a Sunday morning in April 1945, as worship was ending, Dietrich was praying when the guards walked in and shouted, “Bonhoeffer, come with us.” The gathered Christians gasped and got ashen faces. They were about to lose their leader. They knew Bonhoeffer was being led outside to be hanged. Death saturated the room.
But as he stood to follow the guards to his death, Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke to his fellow prisoners and fearlessly said, “This is the end. ... But for me, it is the beginning of life.”
Easter is the main event.
We are the people of the empty tomb.
We are a people of hope. Death is not the end, but the beginning.
We are Easter people.
Allen R. Hunt is senior advisor for the Dynamic Catholic Institute.