Easter and the Resurrection: Our Finest Hour
Today we are beginning the second week of the Easter season. As a Church we continue to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection right through to Pentecost Sunday which is celebrated this year on May 31
st. Easter tends to be a wonderful time of year as Winter yields to Spring and we experience the freshness of the season – the smell of cut grass, the sound of kids playing outside, the sight of flowers blooming and coming forth from the ground.
This Easter feels a bit different. We are living a very uncertain time. In the shadow of
Covid-19 we do not know exactly how we are supposed to act. Interestingly, in that way it is very much like the experience of the first Easter season. The Apostles and early followers of Jesus did not wake up on Easter morning filled with confidence and hope for the future. Instead they were filled with fear and doubt and uncertainty. Their world had been rocked by Jesus’ death on the cross. Their hopes and dreams for the future were sealed with Jesus in the tomb. So they were very unsettled and disquieted much as we are today. They didn’t know what the future held.
But that mood changed through the course of that first Easter season. As they discovered the empty tomb and interacted with the risen Jesus, their mood and their perspective on life changed completely. As they came to faith in the risen Jesus, they renewed their sense of hope and confidence in the future.
Faith and hope go together. The deeper our faith in Jesus’ resurrection, the more hope we will have for the future. Faith is the foundation of hope. We all need hope right now and the firm foundation for that is our faith in Jesus’ resurrection.
Over the next few weeks we are looking at passages from Scripture that can strengthen our faith and give us hope and confidence in the future. Today we are looking at a passage from the Gospel of John. It is chapter 20 – the same chapter we read last week.
On that evening of the first day of the week, where the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for
of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “
be with you.” John 20:19
Last week we read about John and his experience on Easter morning. Later that same night, John and the other disciples or followers of Jesus were locked in a room. Much like us, they felt constrained. They had to stay inside. They couldn’t go outside because they feared the Jewish authorities who had had Jesus arrested and killed. Everyone knew they were Jesus’ followers so they feared they would be next.
Jesus offers peace and then he shows them his hands and his side. He shows them the wounds he suffered on the cross. And when he showed them his wounds, the disciples rejoiced. They realized Jesus was not a ghost or a figment of their imagination. He was real. Throughout the resurrection testimonies, Jesus does very ordinary things - like eating and walking and talking - to show that he really did rise from the dead. Another piece of evidence for the resurrection is that groups of people saw Jesus.
But later we read that Thomas is not there to witness Jesus’ first appearance to the disciples as a group. So the other disciples go to Thomas and excitedly tell him the great news that they have seen Jesus. Not only was their evidence that Jesus was risen because the tomb was empty, now they have all actually seen Him! And how does Thomas respond to this news? He doesn’t believe them. Even though it isn’t just one person but a group of people that tell him. Part of that doubt was his personality. Thomas was naturally a skeptic who refuses to believe without direct personal experience. He refuses to believe that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to the ten other apostles until he could see and feel the wounds received by Jesus on the cross. Only then does he believe.
So what do we do with this? First, I want to encourage you to lean into any doubts about God - explore the evidence and seek to overcome doubts you may have about God. If you have questions or uncertainties about the resurrection, explore them. If you would like a list of books or resources to help you, send me an email.
Second, where have you had your hopes dashed during these recent weeks? How have they impacted your faith and trust in God? Name them and be honest about them. If they feel particularly deep, take 15 minutes this week to journal about them.
In conclusion, there is a scene from the movie Apollo 13 that I recall. Remember it was the movie with Tom Hanks and was about a second mission to go to the moon. When it becomes apparent that the mission has to be aborted and the lives of the astronauts are in danger, someone calls the whole mission a disaster. Then Ed Harris, who played the head of mission control. speaks up and says, “No sir, I believe this will be our finest hour.”
Finest hours often come in the wake of sufferings and defeats. This is why you can continue to put your faith and hope in God no matter the setbacks, defeats and losses of this time. Your wounds and hurts will be redeemed at your resurrection.
When we believe in Jesus’ resurrection and when we believe that we are connected to Him, we are able to see our sufferings and setbacks in a larger reality. We are able to see that they will be redeemed. Out of the ashes we can, and will, rise.
God Bless you all folks, your always in my prayers.
Fr. Gerard Plant