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Can a ghost eat a piece of fish? Or be seen by more than 500 people
at one time? Easter prayers can help us celebrate the cornerstone of our
faith: our Lord’s Resurrection. By rising from His tomb after His
crucifixion, Christ conquered death so that we all might be freed from
our sins and one day share Eternal Life with Him in Heaven!
Having meditated on Jesus's life and death in His Passion during Lent, we can rejoice at His Resurrection at Easter much as Mary Magdalene and the disciples must have done when they saw Him risen! (The Rembrandt painting above was inspired by John’s Gospel (20:14) and shows Mary Magdalene with Jesus just before she recognized Him after His Resurrection.)
In our Easter prayers such as the Regina Coeli, these below, and others listed here, we can see the importance of our becoming new creations in Christ.
Oh God, Who this day by Your only-begotten Son vanquishing death, has unlocked for us the gate of eternity, help us to attain the desires to which You have led us by Your inspirations. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Oh God, as we renew our Baptismal vows, help us to be made worthy of Eternal Life, that we may always seek to do Your will in our hearts and minds, that we may show others Your saving grace and Your love. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Oh God, who makes the faithful to be of one mind and will, grant that we, Your people; may love what you command and desire what You promise so that, amid the changing things of this world, our hearts may be fixed where true joys are to be found. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Our prayers and meditations during this season, which lasts seven weeks from Easter Sunday until Pentecost, can also remind us of the many ways in which what we commonly refer to as the Paschal Mystery is not some whimsical story, as some might have you believe these days. (The Paschal Mystery refers to Jesus’ Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven.)
Christ wasn’t just some philosopher or prophet but was indeed the Son of God, the Second person of the Trinity! As mentioned above, after His Resurrection Jesus wasn’t a ghost either!
One of the apostles, St. Thomas, inadvertently helped provide proof of that when at Jesus’s behest, he touched His wounds from His crucifixion, after having previously expressed his doubts about our Lord’s rising from the dead. Luke’s gospel (24:42) includes another incident mentioned earlier when Christ ate some food in front of His joyfully amazed disciples.
After His Resurrection, Christ had a glorified body, one that could move and appear or disappear instantaneously, much as the two disciples discovered when they met Him on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13).There are some other post-Resurrection appearances mentioned here.
St. Augustine lists the following 10 “distinct appearances of the Lord to different persons after His resurrection” in his treatise De consensu evangelistarum (On the Harmony of the Evangelists):
1) "To the women near the sepulcher" (John 20:14)
2) "To the same women as they were on the way returning from the sepulcher" (Matt 28:9)
3) "To Peter" (Luke 24:35)
4) "To the two who were going to the place in the country" [The Disciples on the Road to Emmaus)] (Luke 24:15)
5) "To the larger number in Jerusalem, when Thomas was not present" (John 20:19-24)
6) "On the occasion when Thomas saw Him" (John 20:26)
7) "By the sea of Tiberias" (John 21:1)
8) "On the mountain of Galilee, of which Matthew speaks" (Matt 28:16-17)
9) "At the time to which Mark refers in the words, 'Lastly as they sat at table,' thereby intimating that now they [the apostles] were no more to eat with Him upon the earth" (Mark 16:14)
10) "On the same day, not now indeed upon the earth, but lifted up in the cloud, as he ascended into heaven" (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-51)
Clearly, we’re not talking about one stray hallucination or some case of mistaken identity here!
St. John himself noted that Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples that were not written down (John 21:30) during that time before His Ascension.
St. Paul also provides us with a quick chronicle of proof to his
own Doubting Thomases in his first letter to the Corinthians where he
mentions that Christ appeared after His Resurrection to Peter, the other
apostles, and once to 500 people at one time (as mentioned earlier) (1
When we renew our baptismal vows at mass on Easter Sunday, we strengthen our faith and our determination to “walk in newness of life” with our Lord, as St. Paul put it so well (Rom 6:4).
With Christ’s help we can free ourselves from the shackles of our sins and share Eternal Life with Him when we pass away. Just as He conquered death, then so can each of us, if we persevere in prayer and in sincerely trying to do His will!
Easter prayers also help us reflect on the fact that these efforts towards holiness will indeed be rewarded in heaven. It is an important tenet of our faith that our bodies will join our souls either in heaven or in hell at the Last Judgment, reaffirming the eternal destination established at our death.
Our bodies in heaven will be immortal, pain-free, and able to move at the speed of thought, much like Christ’s in the gospel accounts of events between His Resurrection and His Ascension! (Imagine never having to worry about aches and pains again? Or about some craving that will only make you miserable afterwards!)
In our Easter prayers let us keep “our eyes on the prize” as we contemplate St. Paul’s words that our bodies shall rise in power and in incorruptibility to join our souls if we have attained Eternal Life with God.
The prospect of this immense and everlasting happiness should encourage us to, as he put it be steadfast “in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor 16:58).
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