The Easter season continues to invite us and to challenge us to reflect on what the resurrection of Jesus means for us. In some senses, this is the central question of our Christian faith. The belief that Jesus rose again stands at the heart of our Creeds; as Saint Paul says, if Christ is not risen our faith is in vain. But Saint James reminds us that faith, real faith, marries thought and word and deed. Faith involves the whole person and impacts the whole of life.
So, once again, we are invited and challenged to ask ourselves what the implications of Christ’s resurrection are for how we now must live.
I find it very comforting that the early witnesses to Christ’s resurrection did not find any of this easy. For them, as for us, this is hard. Recognising the risen Christ for who he really is; understanding what God has achieved by his death and resurrection; allowing grief and fear to be overcome by joy and confidence: these are among the struggles of those who knew Jesus best. We should not be surprised if they are a struggle for us as well.
The struggles of those first Christians to live as ‘resurrection people’ offer us more than comfort, though. They give us clues to how we, in our own time and place, can live out our resurrection faith.
Perhaps the single most important of these clues is that news of the resurrection must be shared. It must be told, proclaimed, announced. Mary must tell the disciples that she has seen the Lord. The companions on the road to Emmaus must tell of their encounter with the risen Christ.
As I reflect on this, I find anxieties rising within me that perhaps many of you will recognise. It is easy to fight shy of this aspect of our Christian lives: through natural reserve; through a proper regard for the personal and private nature of religious matters; through a strong consciousness of the risk of making things worse by doing it badly; or perhaps through a notion that ‘evangelism’ is something best left to a particular sort of religious professional.
These are real and important anxieties. Yet I also find myself having to acknowledge that none of us who have encountered the risen Christ (as we do each and every time we share in the Eucharist) is excused this. We are all called to share the good news of Christ’s resurrection.
The most helpful way of approaching this, I find, is to realise that we can all tell the truth. We don’t have to sign up to someone else’s method or endorse someone else’s experience. We need only speak openly and honestly about what Christian faith means to us. Sharing is not the same as selling, and the unvarnished truth about our own experience has a power to persuade that nothing else can match.
As this Easter season continues, my prayer is that we may all be given grace to share the good news of Christ’s risen life.
May God bless you all,