Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
The first words of Peter’s preaching, in the first reading for Easter Sunday, are “you know what has happened.” Peter does not start off by saying “you know the stories,” or “you know what motivates us.” He talks about “what has happened.” This gets right to the heart of the Christian claim. Something has happened, and we know it. God has burst into human history and altered it forever. When we speak of the Resurrection, we speak of a real historical event.
This is the amazing thing about Christianity. We do not say that if you believe, you will be a more motivated individual, you will be a better person, or that you will be more at peace with things—though all these things will hopefully happen. First and foremost, we say that if you believe, you will be more in touch with reality—you will know what has happened, and be able to act accordingly. And the reality is that God became a human being at a particular time and place, died, and then rose from the dead.
This reality is a lot for us to take in. Someone who was (among other things) fully human managed to conquer death. It is more than just a pleasant bedtime story, or one of those rumors that starts “this guy I know swears…” We have actual people and places we can point to, and a specific tomb in Jerusalem (now the Church of the Holy Sepulcher) that should have a body but doesn’t. But if it is hard for us to grasp the reality, we can at least take comfort in knowing that the same was true of the disciples. All this week in the readings, we will see them experience the Resurrection and then question their own experiences, while Jesus comes to them time and again to help them believe the reality—a reality He has changed forever.