A number of key scripture passages summing up our belief in mystery of the Resurrection are repeated in the morning and evening prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours in the Easter Season. They’re from the Acts of the Apostles, the Letter to the Hebrews, the Letter to the Romans, and the First Letter of Peter.
Jesus, risen from the dead, takes his place at the right hand of the Father and as our high priest saves those who approach God through him, interceding for them. (Hebrews 7:24-27) We are saved by confessing him on our lips and believing in our hearts he is our Lord. (Romans 10:8-10)
Passages from the Acts of the Apostles tell how this message came to be announced by those who first saw the Risen Christ. Two early sermons are especially important. Peter tells the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household that “ God raised (Jesus) on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10:40-43)
Paul speaking to Jews and gentiles in a synagogue in Pisidian Antioch has a similar message: For many days after his resurrection, Jesus “appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. God raised him from the dead.These are [now] his witnesses before the people. We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you that what God promised our ancestors he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my son; this day I have begotten you.’” (Acts 13: 30-33)
Paul describes elsewhere how the Risen Jesus, after appearing to the Galilean disciples, also appeared to him. “Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.” ( 1 Corinthians 15: 8)
The Resurrection of Jesus fulfills a promise God made long ago to save his people. It is a promise shared with the whole world.
Besides human witnesses, the Holy Spirit testifies to the Resurrection of Jesus by signs and wonders. Peter tells the crowds gathered in Jerusalem after Pentecost “God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.We are witnesses of these things, as is the holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:30-32)
In his Resurrection Jesus becomes a living stone on whom a new creations is built, Peter says in a reading repeated in the Easter Season.” Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2: 1-5 )
These summaries of faith, found in the church’s morning and evening prayers during the Easter Season help us enter the mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection. They remind us how much we depend on the witness of those who came Galilee and saw the Lord. Risen from the dead, Jesus does not leave us orphans or forget us. “Son though he was, Christ learned obedience from what he suffered:” he knows our human ways and he carries our wounds in his risen body. We are branches on a vine that reaches from earth to heaven. The Holy Spirit gives witness to him.
As we pray the liturgy of the Easter Season, we’re introduced gradually into the mystery of Christ. The liturgy is a patient teacher. Like the first disciples we are slow learners. The liturgy teaches us day by day, year by year.