The days immediately preceding and following the resurrection must have been days of turmoil for the first followers of Jesus. I'm sure they went through the whole gamut of emotion - fear and uncertainty, devastation and utter despair, loneliness and separation - only to be brought to the edge of hope and joy with news of "resurrection sightings."
But it was still difficult for them to truly believe the stories they were hearing. As much as they wanted It was still hard to bring themselves to believe that the Lord had truly risen, as He said He would. Even when they saw Him, they weren't sure. The Gospel tells us that they were "startled and terrified. They thought they were seeing a ghost." Jesus greets them and bids them to be at peace. He tells them to relax. "Look at me, touch me, see for yourselves."
Easter faith is not based on ghosts or spirits. It is not focused on stories or hearsay. The faith borne of resurrection is one of tangible and physical reality. The disciples touched Him, they ate with Him and they became His witnesses for generations to come.
Still it is difficult to believe without fear and trepidation. The reality of the world around us sometimes makes it impossible to sift through the suffering, devastation and death. And for those without faith this reality is proof that surely God doesn't exist. For them this becomes proof that all our talk about the Risen Christ is just that - talk.
The very heart of the "good news" that Jesus had come to announce was THE RESURRECTION. And He wanted all of His followers to understand this ultimate expression of His Father's love, a love that would overcome death itself.
The first disciples believed because they experienced the Risen Christ. But they still found it all difficult to understand.
Our belief in the Risen Christ is somewhat different. Our proof lies within those who give of themselves in the service of others as He commanded. Our proof is seen in the lives of those men and women who quietly and continuously work for human justice and peace. Our faith in the resurrection is found in all those who are willing to lay down their lives for their brothers and sisters, who live their lives to the full, who embrace death with open arms not as a final statement of courage, but as one of total self-giving into the new life of Christ.
Our Easter faith in the resurrection should do two things for us: it should assure us of the Lord's continuing, abiding presence with us, day by day, hour by hour. And it should help us to cope very positively with the reality and finality of death - our own, of those around us and of those dear to us.
The Easter victory of Jesus Christ continues to send shock-waves down through the centuries, calling people of every age - especially our own - to be survivors with Him in the ongoing battle between good and evil.
We are the proof that Christ is alive and lives with us still. We are His witnesses to all the nations. And we are called to a new level of faith and responsibility - a call to a deeper understanding of who we are as disciples of the Risen Lord. Proof of the Risen Christ lies with us.
A new day is breaking. The One who is hope, still lives.
A Blessed and Joyous Easter!