J.M.J. May the Risen Christ through Mary, Witness to the Risen Lord, grant to each and all a very joyous Easter Sunday and Eastertide.
Imagine the incredible boldness with which Saint Peter proclaimed the Risen Christ. The stirring message of the first Pope that we hear in today’s First Reading was clear, understandable, and unmistakable: Jesus of Nazareth has triumphed over sin and death and lives among us through the preaching of His witnesses.
The steadfast conviction of Peter, which now over 2,000 years later we note with amazement and even awe, did not just appear from nowhere. Since the Holy Spirit found Peter the fisherman to be open, He endowed him especially on Pentecost Sunday with many gifts to be used in sharing far and wide the Good News. Peter’s rock-like determination came from Heaven above.
But the courage animating Peter after the Resurrection of Christ was not always so evident. He denied that he knew Jesus three times shortly after having attended the Last Supper on Holy Thursday evening. In fact, when Peter ran to the empty tomb with Saint John the Evangelist on the first Easter Sunday morning, he was a confused and broken man. He seemed to be the furthest thing from a heroic disciple of the Master.
Why the turnaround? To whom do we attribute Peter’s passage from fear to such audacity?
The Holy Spirit! The Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity enlightened the mind of Peter and steeled his will for the fierce battles ahead. Perhaps there would always be tense situations and regrettable conflicts to confront, but Peter would not be afraid. Why? Because Peter was anointed with the Holy Spirit—the same Holy Spirit, in Peter’s own words, with which Jesus Christ was anointed. Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, lives by the Holy Spirit.
Peter, now filled with the Holy Spirit and having been pardoned for his sin by the Risen Lord, took to heart and applied the sentiments contained in the famous passage in the Letter of Staint Paul to the Romans (8:14–17):
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” The same Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
With the Lord’s help, Peter cast aside the blinding terror that once plagued him and was robed in the sinless, white garment of the Lamb.
Inspired by the example of Peter, who moved from trepidation to confidence, we ask for that similar transformation which comes directly from the Holy Spirit. We also can experience that stunning alteration from death to life. Regardless of our past misdeeds, when we turn to Christ and acknowledge our belief in Him we “will receive forgiveness of sins through His Name.” With the Psalmist we delight to sing: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.”
We have every expectation that when Christ comes again to judge the living and the dead, we “will appear with Him in glory.”
For those who surrender to the Holy Spirit and accept the power that only He can give, the possibilities for spiritual growth are endless.
We are lost without the Holy Spirit. But with Him, there is no limit to our increase in holiness.
Easter Sunday is here again. Jesus Christ wants to remain with us always. We have a serious choice to make: to live, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, for the Risen Christ or to live for ourselves.
Our Lord desires that the joy of this Easter day reside within us. He doesn’t want us to fall back into slavery to sin. Rather, He invites us to cling to Him, because “with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.”
By our Lenten prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, the Lord has lessened the stubborn snares of Satan within us. But we must always be on the lookout because the Evil One likes nothing better than to deceive us by making sin look attractive. While he can tempt us at any moment, he is particularly active when we feel satisfied or safe and immune from him, because that is when we let our guard down.
To ensure that the Risen Lord Jesus stays with us, we pray daily and receive the Sacraments often, especially Confession and the Most Holy Eucharist. We invoke Our Blessed Lady, who saw her Risen Son, and seek her maternal intercession. We read Sacred Scripture and perform acts of charity and self-denial.
Christ has conquered sin and death. Now is the time for us to run with St. Peter to the tomb and discover that Jesus Christ has risen as He promised. He is not there . . . He has thrown off the shackles of death and lives forever, awaiting our entrance into Paradise.
Let us not disappoint Him. May we yield to the Holy Spirit and follow Christ here on earth and one day to Heaven. His everlasting joy will be ours. Alleluia, Alleluia.