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The Resurrection is a point of completing HIS Mission …

Dear Members of the English-speaking Catholic Community,

The first element we encounter in celebrating Easter is the ‘empty tomb’. As the apostles discovered this, it became an essential sign for all. This was the case also with the pious women who entered the tomb, and even with St. Peter and the other apostles. St. Peter and the twelve are the primary witnesses, although they are not the only ones. We study, St. Paul clearly speaks of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection, similar to the witness of the other apostles (cf. Lk 24,17; Jn 20,19). At the encounters of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, when in direct contact with his apostles, Jesus presents the same body that had been tortured, wounded and crucified, for the fact that it still bore the signs of his passion and sufferings (cf. Lk 24,30. 39-40; Jn 20,20-21.13-15).

When we recall the entire earthly life of Jesus Christ, which expresses his mission to serve and to save humankind for the forgiveness of sins (cf. Mk 10,45), the resurrection from the dead becomes a point of completion of Christ’s mission on earth. It then follows, that we acknowledge the Ascension of Christ to sit at the right hand of the Father and the gratuitous gift of God’s Holy Spirit to us, that we celebrate at the feast of Pentecost. These are other visible landmarks in salvation history, as Jesus himself had told his apostles, his disciples and the chief priests.

Therefore, at every Holy Mass celebrated, we recall the memorial of this sacrifice of Jesus’ free offering of himself, shared with his twelve apostles at the last supper, and God’s mercy to us for the forgiveness of sins. The same words of Jesus himself are pronounced ‘This is my body which is given up for you, and, this is my blood of the new and eternal covenant that is poured out for all, for the forgiveness of sins.’
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, after his passion and death on the cross, becomes the object of our faith expressed in every Holy Mass celebrated. This also goes to prove that Jesus, the Son of God, born in Bethlehem that we celebrate at Christmas, is not merely a human person but both human and divine, God and man. Looking back, we cannot dismiss, disqualify or ignore the extraordinary acts, the miracles, Jesus performed in his public ministry when on earth, and all these facts only point out to the mercy of God for humankind.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is historically proved a real event that had taken place in history. There are proofs for this found in secular sciences, in the New Testament, in the early Christian communities, in other sources, and in the witness of St. Paul, who as early as the year A.D 56, spoke about the ‘living tradition of the resurrection’ on which he could write and give testimony.

Having said this, we understand that the ‘Paschal Mystery’, i.e. Easter, completes Christ’s mission on earth. On the one side, it is the forgiveness of sins, and on the other, through his resurrection, it offers us a renewed opportunity to dwell in God’s Kingdom for all eternity. We then are all adopted children of God. Such an adoption then makes it mandatory for us, to respect all other humans as our own sisters and brothers, since we all share and participate in God’s redemptive act.

Hence, the challenge for each one of us is focussed on our two commitments: The first, to praise, thank and proclaim the triune God. We can all do this continuously by participating at Holy Mass, at least, on every Sunday. The second, actualizing the mission of Christ from our divine expression at Holy Mass, to live our life in purity of mind and heart, with mercy and help to all, as much as Jesus Christ has given us an example.

Thus, the missionary mandate in Mt. 28,16-20, that is placed at the end of his Gospel, is to invigorate in us the internal dynamism of the whole Gospel, which is attached to the paschal reports about the risen Lord, after the pericope about the empty grave, the appearance to the women, and the attempted deception of the high priests. It is most of all a mandate for us to proclaim God’s mercy.

The act of proclamation means, a deepening of our own understanding of the missionary task, that implies mission is not just a proclamation to people of other faiths and religions, but more so a fundamental responsibility for each one of us members in the Church to follow, realize and complete in our world. The frame of references, for describing the presence and context of Christian mission today in our world, is through an analysis from available statistics of religions, social situations, changing population structures and developments in different cultures. This means, that the Gospel concerns itself with our human sufferings and problems, with the present social process of the economics and political situations, with new technology, with the struggle of justice for human rights and with our own wellbeing. Facts and figures are only constituent elements necessary to describe responsible Christian mission that must become part of our concerns.

The important point is our openness to the world. St. Paul had the courage and he was bold enough, when he proclaimed, ‘if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is useless and your believing it is useless’ (cf. 1Cor 15,14). This exhibits that Christ’s resurrection is the fulfilment of God’s eternal promise to humankind in salvation history, and therefore, we must concentrate on the practice of our faith. Mission is then understood as God’s action in the world, whose goal is salvation and consequently includes the Church and all of us living in this world. We are the players. Are you ready to continue His Mission?

God’s Blessings to all on this great Feast of the risen Lord – Easter.
Cletus Colaço SVD.     

This page has been updated on 28.03.2019