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Christ is risen, but has anything really changed for us?

Supper at Emmaus by Carravaggio

Wikipedia | Public Domain

John Touhey - published on 04/14/24

In the heart of Eastertide, we can ask ourselves: Has Easter changed us? What are the consequences of truly accepting the reality of the Resurrection?

The other day it struck me that we were in the heart of the Easter season and I had to ask myself: Has anything really changed for us – or is life pretty much going on as always?

I sometimes wonder if many of us aren’t a little bit like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They had heard about the empty tomb; in fact, it was the subject of their conversation. Maybe they wanted to believe that Jesus had risen, but they couldn’t help but feel skeptical – so much so that they didn’t even recognize Jesus when he started walking along beside them. In Luke’s gospel it says that “their eyes prevented them from recognizing him.”

We too often have eyes that prevent us from seeing. We keep hurrying along as if Easter never happened and nothing has really changed. In place of faith, we live with a sense of desperate urgency because the clock is ticking, and time is running out. Life is short. We don’t want to miss out on experiences or live in regret about the dreams we left unfulfilled.

But the truth of Easter is meant to penetrate and alter the course of our lives.

Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio (Detail)
Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio (Detail)

Freed from anxiety

Accepting the reality of the Resurrection means that death and decay have no power over us. We have been truly set free – and that means we should be freed from the anxieties that so often dominate our lives. How often do we fail to recognize Jesus because we are too occupied with other things? Worrying about our career choices, obsessing over our children’s futures, wasting precious hours “doomscrolling” through social media: These are all signs that we have failed to take the message of Easter seriously. It is as if nothing has really changed for us.

On the contrary, the first Easter marked a new course for humanity. As it says in the Book of Revelation (Rev 21:3-5):

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them [as their God].

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away.”

The one who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.”

The person who takes these words to heart, who allows them to penetrate and change her life, has a completely different relationship with reality than before.

“Behold, I make all things new”

What does it mean that God has made all things new? And how does this change the reality of our daily lives?

In November 1999, just weeks before the arrival of the third millennium, Pope John Paul II spoke to precisely this question. He said:

The new millennium is now at hand: may “Christ yesterday, today and forever” be the focus and goal of all our aspirations. It is he who makes all things new and marks out for his faithful ones a journey of joyful hope. Let us pray unceasingly that he will grant the wisdom and strength of his Spirit; let us beseech him that all Christians may achieve unity as soon as possible. Nothing is impossible for God!

Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio (Detail)

An amazing discovery

We are now almost 25 years into the third millennium and the mission we are given remains the same. Two weeks ago, on Easter Sunday, Pope Francis reminded us of “the amazing discovery of that Easter morning: the stone, the immense stone, was rolled away.” He continued:

The astonishment of the women is our astonishment as well: the tomb of Jesus is open and it is empty! From this, everything begins anew! A new path leads through that empty tomb: the path that none of us, but God alone, could open: the path of life in the midst of death, the path of peace in the midst of war, the path of reconciliation in the midst of hatred, the path of fraternity in the midst of hostility.

In his Easter message, the Pope went on to urge all of us to remember in prayer and practical aid the victims of war in Israel, Palestine, and the Ukraine. In a series of pleas, be begged that the Risen Christ assist all those places and peoples who are suffering from humanitarian crises, including Haiti, the Sudan, Lebanon, and many others.  He concluded:

May the light of the resurrection illumine our minds and convert our hearts, and make us aware of the value of every human life, which must be welcomed, protected, and loved.

Entering into the Resurrection

What then is the best way to enter into the reality of the Resurrection? It is enough to follow the indications of the Church.

  • We are called to enter into the sacramental life of the Church with open eyes and hearts, knowing that Jesus is truly walking beside us.
  • We are called to be peacemakers, saying no to war and praying for an end to violence both abroad and in our communities. “Peace is never made with arms,” Pope Francis said this past Easter, “but with outstretched hands and open hearts.”
  • We are called to seek unity with our fellow Christians – and, yes, our brother and sister Catholics!
  • We are called to serve the poor and forgotten in imitation of the Lord. He is counting on us to bring the joy of Easter “to the peripheries,” as the Pope is always reminding us.
  • We are called to be people of hope, never giving into fear or despair. Especially in an age as anxious and distracted as this one, it is vital that we continuously announce that God has chosen to dwell among us and truly does “make all things new,” and then back up these words with our actions.

These are very practical ways the Church has given us to recognize the Risen Christ, allowing him to enter our lives and change us. Let’s take advantage of this remarkable season so that we can become true instruments of peace and love in a world where they are desperately needed.

Catholic LifestyleEasterResurrection
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