HE HAS RISEN! WHAT ABOUT YOU? WITNESSING AND EXPERIENCING THE RESURRECTION POWER HOMILY FOR EASTER SUNDAY (YEAR C) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

EMPTY TOMB 2

The word “witness” is a register from the legal system. As a verb, it refers to the act of giving a positive or negative testimony about a person or an event and as a verb it refers to an individual who comes forward to disclose what he or she knows about a case. According to the United States Department of Justice, there are three types of witnesses:

  • Lay witness: This is the most common type of witness, and it refers to a person who saw certain events and could describe what he/she saw.
  • Expert witness: This has to do with a specialist with expert knowledge that could throw more light on the case that is under examination using the resources of his or her learning.
  • Character witness: This refers to someone who has prior knowledge of the victim, the defendant, or other people involved in the case. Character witnesses usually don’t see the incident happen, but they can be beneficial in a case because they know the personality of the defendant or victim, before the trial. Neighbors, friends, family, security agents, colleagues, and the clergy are often used as character witnesses.

The narrative of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus generated a lot of questions, agitations, and pushbacks from the authorities who believed that our Lord’s suffering, crucifixion, death, and burial should collectively end his life and times as a revolutionary.

Contrary to their thinking, wish, and plan, our Lord, rose from the dead despite the assignment of armed soldiers to guard the tomb (Matt. 27:62-66). When the hour of the resurrection of the Lord approached, the soldiers were not conscious enough to tell the story as the appearance of an angel and a great earthquake overwhelmed the landscape leaving them like dead men (Matt. 28:1-5). Death could not hold him; hades could not hinder him; the soldiers could stop him; our Lord Jesus Christ rose in power and majesty!

Another name for The Acts of the Apostles could be “Acts of Witnessing to the Resurrection.” From Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost through the conversion and mission of Paul, it was about our Lord’s rising from the dead and the power it brought in the lives and works of his followers. We shall come back to the mission of witnessing to the resurrection.

What is the meaning of the Resurrection?

The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ leverages several facts that deserve our insightful attention.

  • Fulfillment of the Scriptures: In the Gospel of John (2:19) our Lord said, “destroy this temple, and I will raise it in three days.” Christ was not only destined to suffer and die he is also destined to rise again and never to die; this is the full length of the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
  • Confirmation of the Divinity of Christ: One of the accusations of the Jews against our Lord Jesus Christ was that he was making himself equal to God (John 5:18). The resurrection confirms this because God cannot undergo total extermination in the grave. At the expiration on the Cross, our Lord Jesus Christ commits his Spirit to the Father (Luke 23:46), his soul goes to preach to the souls in prison (1 Pet. 3:19), while his body remains in the tomb.
  • Restoration of hope and joy: On Good Friday there was mourning because of the cruel death on the cross; it seemed that the case is over. There was darkness all over the world. On Saturday, there was confusion and painful silence. On Sunday, however, hope and joy revamped the whole earth as the Lord rises from the dead.
  • The Tomb is Empty: The central point of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is that the tomb is empty. The emptiness goes beyond the absence of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is also a spiritual implication which tells us that the evil loads in our lives have been eradicated because our debts have been paid in full (John 19:30).

Witnessing to the Resurrection

From today through the coming weeks most of our greeting would begin or end with “Happy Easter,” which also means “happy resurrection.” However, only very few of us would remember to run our lives through the lens of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ by asking one question, “what is the impact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on my life as a Christian; He is risen what about me?

In the First Reading (Acts 10:34a, 37-43) we hear the apostle Peter giving a witness account of his encounter with Jesus Christ which also includes his interaction with him after he rose from the dead in the context of a meal. He identifies himself as a lay witness, an expert witness, and a character witness.

The Gospel today (John 20:1-9) further tells us about the witnessing of Mary of Magdala who visited the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark. She made a pilgrimage of faith not knowing how she could have access to the sealed tomb. Something within her could have encouraged her to undertake that journey by herself from the account of the Gospel today. When she sees an empty tomb, she runs to Simon Peter and John to give witness about what she saw.

How does the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ resonate with you today? He rose from the dead for your sake, and there would be no need for you to remain in the tomb of sadness, hopelessness, and despair when he has overcome the powers of death and the grave. The Psalmist says today is the day the Lord has made we shall rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).

You need to rise and run up like Mary of Magdala to give your witness about the resurrection. St. Paul encourages us today to look up to our risen Lord who sits at the right hand of the Father (Col. 3:1-4). You may be in the Good Friday or Holy Saturday of your life; it may be taking more than you think or imagine, wait, for your Easter Sunday comes soon. St. Paul says that our resurrected Lord can accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine (Eph.3:20)

God bless you more today and always. Happy Easter!

Fr. Bonnie

One Comment on “HE HAS RISEN! WHAT ABOUT YOU? WITNESSING AND EXPERIENCING THE RESURRECTION POWER HOMILY FOR EASTER SUNDAY (YEAR C) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

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