I pray that you had a beautiful Easter with your family and loved ones.

Easter is the feast of our joy. The victory over death has been won.

As Jesus was raised from the dead, we walk with confidence, in what St. Paul called “newness of life,” following in Jesus’ footsteps, our lives now an adventure destined for heaven and the love that never ends.

These next 50 days, from Resurrection Sunday to Pentecost Sunday, are meant to be lived as one long feast, a “great Sunday,” as the Church Father St. Athanasius put it.

In these days, the Church invites us to live with the joy and zeal of the early Church and his first disciples.

Nobody saw the Resurrection. His tomb was sealed up tight with a boulder and guarded by Roman soldiers. He must have risen sometime in the night or just before dawn, but there were no witnesses.

What “evidence” we have comes from his disciples, who reported that they came to his tomb that Sunday and found it empty, and that later that day and in the days that followed, the risen Christ appeared to them.

Jesus could have shown himself risen from the dead, he could have returned to Jerusalem triumphant with a legion of angels, if he had wanted to.

But he chose to stay hidden, to reveal himself only to those who loved him.

In those 40 days, he spoke to them of the kingdom of God, and opened their minds to understand the Scriptures; he ate with them and made himself known to them in the breaking of the bread, the Eucharist.

Before ascending into heaven, he gave them a mission. “You will be my witnesses,” he said, “to the ends of the earth.”
We are the children of those first witnesses, every one of us, whether we were baptized as infants many years ago, or whether we just entered the Church this Easter.

None of us has seen Jesus raised from the dead. We trust the testimony of those who did. Their encounters remain at the heart of the mystery of faith, as the Catechism tells us.

During the Last Supper, his apostles had asked him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”

It is interesting how Jesus responded. “Whoever loves me will keep my word,” he said, “and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”

For Jesus, salvation is personal.

He came to “save the world,” to give his flesh and blood on the cross “for the life of the world.”

But he saves the world one soul at a time. He gives his life out of love, as living bread from heaven, to you and to me, and to everyone who loves him and keeps his commandments.

During this season, I like to re-read the Gospel accounts of those days after the Resurrection. Two notes stand out for me in these stories — joy and witness.

In these stories, we hear the disciples delighting in the Lord’s presence, with the joy of those who have found the treasure they had been searching for their whole lives.

And almost every story ends with one or more rushing off in excitement to tell others of this treasure they have found. As St. Mary Magdalene said, “I have seen the Lord!”

The Church is born in the joy of these witnesses, and the Church’s mission continues in you and me.
As he announced his salvation through his first witnesses, he announces his salvation in this generation, through our witness.

It is a beautiful mystery of God’s plan of salvation that he involves each of us, inviting us to play our part in sharing the joy that we have found in Jesus.

Let us live these next 50 days — and our whole lives — as one “great Sunday.”

Joy grows through witness. The more we speak to others about Jesus and the more good works we do in his name, the more our joy will increase.

Jesus is alive! He is not some historical figure whose memory will one day fade away. He is real and his love is real. He really died for us, and it is worth everything for us now to live for him.

We know it will not always be easy; we will experience sadness and suffering, and the ugliness of sin. But we know that Jesus will wipe away every tear because he has conquered death.

Pray for me and I will pray for you.

And let us ask our mother Mary, the mother of joy, to keep us always close to her risen Son, that we might always know this joy and share it with all the world.