Wednesday, April 19, 2017: Bright Wednesday
Christ is Risen!
Today’s readings focus our attention on Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” the sacrifice that takes away the sins not only of the Jewish People but all the world. He does this by His death on the Cross. The evidence of the sacrificial and soteriological (saving) character of Jesus’ death is that He rise from the dead on the third day.
When we exchange the Paschal greeting–”Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!”–what we are in effect saying is this:
By His sacrificial death and resurrection, Christ takes away the sins of the world!
Indeed, by His sacrificial death and resurrection, Christ takes away the sins of the world!
Rightly understood, the Paschal greeting is kerygmatic, it is a brief, evangelical statement of the Gospel. When we exchange this greeting with each other, we are not only reminding and encouraging each other to stand firm in the Gospel but rehearsing the Good News that as disciples of Christ we are called to share with the world.
We need this reminder and encouragement because, as the reading from Acts makes clear, the religious and civil powers of this world reject the Gospel. This rejection is the definition of what it means to be a power in this world.
The irony here is not lost on St Peter.
It is precisely those charged with the power of the sword (see Romans 13:3-4), the Roman authorities, and those who sat on the seat of Moses (see Matthew 23:2), the Jewish authorities, who put Jesus to death. The very men who were called by God to uphold the civil and religious laws were themselves the same “lawless men” who “crucified and killed” Jesus. These men of the law became betrays of the law so that they could hold on to power.
In all ages and in all places, to proclaim the Gospel puts Christians at odds with the lawless men and women of that time and locality.
As followers of Christ, we threat the powers of this world. We do so not by preaching armed insurrection but by our gentle invitation to others that they “Come and see.” For you say to your neighbor “Repent, and be baptized” is an affront to those who usurp the place of God in their desire to rule over others.
The Gospel liberates, the powers of this world can only enslave.
At our baptism, God has called each of us to be His disciples. In our chrismation God has given us the Holy Spirit. Together these two sacraments allow us to make Jesus’ words our own:
He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18, NKJV).
When we exchange the Paschal greeting–Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!–we need to remember that these words not only tell us what we believe, they remind us of who we are: Disciples and apostles called by God to proclaim freedom in Christ!