One of my seminary professors quoted the Jewish theologian Pinchas Lapide on Easter morning on Facebook. My professor Father Charles Morerod, OP, is now Bishop of Geneva and Fribourg in his native Switzerland.
My best attempt at translating Lapide from the original French quote took me to these spectacular words: “how can we explain the astonishing change of the disciples of Jesus who had every reason to be afraid and to resume their lives discreetly, but rather they spread themselves out with joy, and in a way of life which exposed them even more?”
Lapide answers his own question, “from the evidence available, the only one sufficient to explain this behavior is that Jesus was truly risen!”
Bishop Morerod completed the quote encouraging his readers that Easter would have the same effect on us today!
The words of Mary Magdalene in the Gospel of Saint John express tremendous sorrow when she speaks to the apostles after finding the empty tomb, “they have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him!” Her sadness plummeted into an unbearable depth when she thought someone had stolen the body of Jesus. Her sorrow however was transformed along with Peter’s and John’s who ran to the tomb after hearing the news from Mary. They saw and believed, and so did many others including Mary Magdalene. Their unsurpassable loss became an overabundant joy that propelled the first Christians to announce to the whole world that Jesus had indeed risen from the tomb.
Pinchas Lapide captures the novelty of the Resurrection – a story we have heard so many times. The only way to explain the fervor and zeal of the early Church is that Jesus truly rose from the dead.
The promise of new life brings hope for the future. In this time of fear and pandemic, the Resurrection of Jesus stands as a guarantee that we can face the future with the assurance that death never has the last word.
The Lord has risen indeed! And has appeared to Simon! Alleluia.
Picture is not mine, used with permission.