Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Kyomtho (Easter Sunday) Special

Volume 4 No. 214 April 20, 2014

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The Disciples Running to the Sepulcher by Eugene Burnand, 1898

The Disciples Running to the Sepulcher by Eugene Burnand, 1898

Peter and John run toward the sepulcher, an event wonderfully depicted by the nineteenth-century French painter Eugene Burnand. In his work, The Disciples Running to the Sepulcher, the highly animated John and Peter run side by side through the chill morning air toward the now vacant tomb. We note the anxious anticipation in their faces. It is only when they witness the empty tomb and encounter the angels that John records that they, for the first time, believed in the scripture that Christ would rise from the dead (see John 20:8–9).

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Foreword by Dr. Jacob Mathew

He is Risen! Indeed He Is RISEN!!

Christianity is unique in that we have a resurrected savior. No other religion can claim that. We also have a savior who has incarnated as a human being, lived with us and shared our joys and sufferings. He understands it first hand how it feels when we get sick, lose a loved one to terminal disease or from accidents, and being dejected and abandoned by our friends. So, He is ideally suited to provide us a shoulder to lean on when we need support, cry with us as he did when he saw his friends weeping at Lazarus' tomb and carry us in his hands when go through trials and tribulations. ...

2. Bible Readings for Easter Sunday (April 20)

3. Sermons for Easter Sunday (April 20)

Sermons for Easter Sunday
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-for-Passion-week_Easter.htm

4. Easter Meditation - He is Risen! by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

"I rose up and am still with Thee." After His labors and His humiliations, Christ finds rest with His Father. "I am still with Thee." This is perfect beatitude. Through His cross He entered into the possession of eternal glory. Christ has gained the crown of victory; through Christ men also win their crowns of victory. ...

5. Cover: The Greatest Easter Painting Ever Made

In "The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulcher on the Morning of the Resurrection" by Eugène Burnand, John clasps his hand in prayer while Peter holds his hand over his heart. The viewer feels the rush as their hair and cloaks fly back with the wind. They are sprinting towards discovery of the moment that forever altered heaven and earth. ...

6. At Daybreak on that First Easter Sunday - Triumph of Life over Death By Deacon Mike Bickerstaff

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

What more fitting conclusion to a week of sinful drama and tragedy, pain and suffering could there be than the triumph of Life over death! There is so much about Easter to help us live our lives in this day. Surely we can more fully embrace all that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ means for us today if we go back in time and place ourselves in the lives of the Apostles and disciples who experienced that first Easter Sunday first-hand. ...

7. On St. Paul and the Resurrection by Pope Benedict XVI

Two Facts Are Important: The Tomb Is Empty and Jesus Really Appeared.

In preaching Jesus Christ risen from the dead, Paul was concerned to "hand on" what he himself had "received" from the Apostles (cf. 1 Cor 15:3). He proclaims not only the fact of the resurrection, but its vital significance: in Christ, who died and rose for us, we have been saved, made righteous in the sight of God. The resurrection reveals Jesus’ true identity as the eternal Son of God and Lord of the living and the dead. We, for our part, are called to become fully configured to him in the mystery of his passover from death to life. Our present sufferings thus become a sharing in Christ’s own suffering and death, while the hope of the resurrection even now draws us toward the fullness of life with all the saints in his Kingdom. Salvation, Paul tells us, comes from confessing with our lips that Jesus is Lord, and believing in our hearts that God raised him from the dead (cf. Rom 10:9). With the Apostle, then, let us strive ever more fully, in faith and hope, "to know Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection" (cf. Phil 3:10). ...

8. Easter Homily of St John Chrysostom

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord! ...

9. The 'So What' of The Resurrection by Dr. Joe McKeever

The whole point of the Lord's rising from the dead is what it says about the Lord Jesus, what that says to the enemy, and the difference this should make to believers. ...

10. Mary Magdalene - Wholehearted Devotion by Greg Laurie

Of all the people Jesus could have appeared to first after His resurrection, He appeared to Mary Magdalene. It is interesting to think about, because among the Jews of the day, the testimony of a woman was not held in high regard. In fact, some of the rabbis falsely taught that it was better for the words of the Law to be burned than to be delivered by a woman. Yet Jesus chose a woman to be the first herald of His resurrection. ...

11. Easter: All That Matters vs. All I Live For by Shawn McEvoy

What would I ever do if someone I knew came back from the dead? Especially if he had said he would, and if he had spent a couple nights in a grave already?

Seriously, what would I do? What would you do? Wouldn't I blab to everyone I know - and most people I don't - about this miraculous event? Heck, I tell everyone when I'm feeling under the weather or when I saw a good movie. ...

12. Recipe: Classic Australian Recipe - Banbury Cakes by Dr. Shila Mathew

13. Family Special: Sharing an Unexpected Easter With Your Loved Ones by Pam and Bill Farrel

When you think about it, the core of Easter is the precious and welcome surprise of Romans 5:8: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. " Christ's resurrection is the proof to the promise of His great love.

Create a plan to wow your loved ones. If married, the most important part of the romantic surprise is the invitation. Here are a few ideas from some of my friends that really wowed their husbands: ...

14. About Malankara World

Foreword
He is Risen! Indeed He Is RISEN!!

Christianity is unique in that we have a resurrected savior. No other religion can claim that. We also have a savior who has incarnated as a human being, lived with us and shared our joys and sufferings. He understands it first hand how it feels when we get sick, lose a loved one to terminal disease or from accidents, and being dejected and abandoned by our friends. So, He is ideally suited to provide us a shoulder to lean on when we need support, cry with us as he did when he saw his friends weeping at Lazarus' tomb and carry us in his hands when go through trials and tribulations.

We have a savior who can transform ordinary people into extraordinary disciples, a savior who loves everyone equally irrespective of what position they hold in the society. He taught us that the only thing that matters is love. Love God, Love Your Neighbor and Love One Another. Christianity is also a religion of second chances. You can be like Peter who had denied Jesus three times when Jesus was being persecuted; but Jesus made sure that he understands that Jesus does not hold any grudge against him, reinstated him and elevated him to the position of the first among the disciples. We also know of David, who had committed adultery and capital murder, but after he repented, he was elevated to the highest position among Jews - from whose bloodline the future Messiah will come from!

As we go through the experiences of the Great Lent and Passion Week leading to the Easter, the most important lesson we need to learn is that no matter how bad we had been and the sins may have made us scarlet, Jesus can clean it and make it while as solid ice. There are no sins that cannot be wiped clean by Jesus Christ (except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit - that is a different topic.) Jesus has already paid for our sins by shedding his blood on Calvary. The price has been paid, we just have to come forward and claim the eternal gift. Jesus is standing outside the door of our hearts, knocking. Will you open the door and let him in and be with him for eternity? The choice is ours!

Easter Service - 2014 by Rev. Fr. Dr. Binoy Alexander, Detroit

This year our church St. Basil's Church - Ohio and St. Mary's Church - Detroit joined St. Ephraim Knanaya Church-Detroit and had a combined service for Passion Week under the leadership of Rev. Fr. Dr. Binoy Alexander Thattankunnel. It was a blessed service with plenty of support staff available to help achen too. We want to thank Binoy achen and the members of St. Ephraim church for their exceptional hospitality and going out of their way to make us feel at home in their new wonderful church. That is the best example of practicing Jesus' new commandment, "Love One Another (as I loved you)."

Easter Service - 2014 by Rev. Fr. Dr. Binoy Alexander, Detroit

Two photos from the Easter service is included here as a reminder of a truly Unique Easter 2014.

Please take a closer look at the cover photo of this edition of Malankara World Journal. The facial expression of the two of Jesus' disciples - St. Peter and St. John - as they rush to find out what is happening at the tomb of Jesus says it all. We can feel the wind blowing. We can see the anxiety of Peter - what will the savior say to him after he denied him - and the love of St. John, who is in a prayerful posture - the only one of the disciples who was with Jesus at the foot of the cross and to him Jesus entrusted his priceless inheritance in this earth - his mother St. Mary. Examine the picture and meditate on it thinking about what the feelings of these two men had at that time. It is truly priceless!

We wish you all a happy Easter.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

Easter Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for Easter Sunday (April 20)
 
Sermons for Easter Sunday (April 20)
This Week's Features

Easter Meditation - He is Risen!

by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

"I rose up and am still with Thee." After His labors and His humiliations, Christ finds rest with His Father. "I am still with Thee." This is perfect beatitude. Through His cross He entered into the possession of eternal glory. Christ has gained the crown of victory; through Christ men also win their crowns of victory.

Humanity was under a curse and subject to the wrath of God. Now that they have risen with Christ, their guilt has been destroyed. "I rose up and am still with Thee." The liturgy places these words in the mouth of the Church that she may pray them with Christ.

"The earth trembled and was still when God arose in judgment." The resurrection of Christ is the judgment and condemnation of those who have turned away from God. This judgment was prefigured by the angel who passed through the land of Egypt destroying the first-born of the Egyptians. The Israelites marked the doors of their houses with the blood of the paschal lamb. We are the new Israel, and "Christ our Pasch is sacrificed." We mark ourselves with His blood, which we enjoy in the Holy Eucharist. We have been pardoned, we are saved, we shall live.

"He is risen." The resurrection of Christ is a pledge of our own resurrection. It is the foundation upon which our faith rests. It is the guarantee of our redemption and God's assurance that our sins are forgiven and that we are called to eternal life. "This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad and rejoice therein. Give praise to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever. Alleluia." "Christ our Pasch is sacrificed. . . . The Lamb redeems the sheep. Christ, the innocent One, hath reconciled sinners to the Father."

Source: Excerpted from The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

Cover: The Greatest Easter Painting Ever Made

by Elise Ehrhard

Tucked away in a central Parisian museum that was once a railway station, there hangs an Easter painting quite unlike any Gospel masterpiece created before or after it. It is not painted by a Rembrandt or a Rubens or the patron saint of artists, Fra Angelico. The painting is the work of a little-known Swiss painter. For those who make a trip to see it, viewing the canvas is a special spiritual experience in their lives.

The work does not even show the risen Jesus. It merely portrays two witnesses, Jesus' oldest and youngest apostle. The youngest who was the only man brave enough to stay by Jesus' cross and the only one who did not die a martyr's death as a result of it. The oldest apostle who first denied Jesus in fear, yet ultimately chose to be crucified upside down by the Roman authorities rather than deny Christ's resurrection.

In "The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection" by Eugène Burnand, John clasps his hand in prayer while Peter holds his hand over his heart. The viewer feels the rush as their hair and cloaks fly back with the wind. They are sprinting towards discovery of the moment that forever altered heaven and earth. As you look at it, engage for a moment in what the Bill Donaghy calls "the visual equivalent of Lectio Divina." As Donaghy notes, "This Resurrection scene does not put us before still figures near a stagnant stone, or figures standing with stony faces in a contrived, plastic posture, pointing to an empty tomb. This scene is dynamic; we are in motion."

During his time, Burnand was fascinated by the possibilities of the emerging art of photography. Ironically, he would later be dismissed in the twentieth century as too "bourgeois" and anti-modernist when in fact he was merging his love of tradition with his interest in new technological ways of capturing the human person. His painting feels cinematic long before cinema existed as a major art form.

Through the movement and immediacy of the scene, the preceding minutes with Mary Magdalene are palpable. In a sense, she is in the painting too. "You can almost hear her voice in the background, can you not, a few minutes earlier, as she burst into their house…" writes the Episcopal Bishop Dorsey McConnell in an Easter sermon meditating on the painting.

Apart from Jesus' mother, no other three participants capture the closeness of Jesus' encounter with humankind quite like John, Peter and Mary of Magdala. Their interactions with Christ embody a relationship to God previously unimaginable to mankind. Jesus turning to Peter as they sit by the fire and asking three times, "Do you love me?", thereby washing away the sin of the three denials past; Christ turning to John in the midst of his suffering and saying, "Behold, your mother," giving her to the Church entire. And, of course, the beautiful moment about to transpire in which Jesus' merely says Mary's name and she recognizes Him with a cry of "Rabbouni!" They are the moments which cause one to wonder how those who truly hate Christianity (not merely disbelief it) can remain so hostile to its narrative beauty.

Burnand's work was part of a late nineteenth century version of the new evangelization. The public, particularly in the United States, desired original religious imagery. Burnand lived in an era in which a revived spiritual hunger fought against the push of emerging atheistic philosophies, philosophies that would eventually consume a continent and leave only a struggling remnant of European Christendom in its wake.

He was "an illustrator of popular working types: collectors of coal, sowers in the field and even penitent woodsmen praying at a roadside cross," writes Gabriel P. Weisberg, a professor of art history at the University of Minnesota. For him the image of two fishermen racing toward a supernatural realization about the death of a carpenter would be instinctive.

Look into Peter's wide open eyes and John's intense gaze. Their eyes contain a mix of anxiousness and hope, the way a parent or grandparent's eyes look at the news of an impending birth. A new life is about to emerge, but there is still uncertainty because it is a mystery beyond full human comprehension or control. Peter and John's faces capture the same sense of anticipation.

Burnand created a sparse, simple painting capturing two of the most important players in the greatest story ever told. Meditate upon their faces as Burnand intended you to do and through them discover the empty tomb.

Source: Crisis Magazine

At Daybreak on that First Easter Sunday - Triumph of Life over Death

By Deacon Mike Bickerstaff

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

What more fitting conclusion to a week of sinful drama and tragedy, pain and suffering could there be than the triumph of Life over death! There is so much about Easter to help us live our lives in this day. Surely we can more fully embrace all that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ means for us today if we go back in time and place ourselves in the lives of the Apostles and disciples who experienced that first Easter Sunday first-hand.

A Look Back to the Beginning of Belief and Understanding

For three years, the Apostles and other disciples had traveled with Jesus, learning from him as best as they could all of what God the Father was revealing to them through His Son. It was a time of new discovery and unimaginable joy as they spent their days with the One who had created them. But we mustn't make the mistake of thinking that they fully understood.

At some point during the twelve months that preceded the Resurrection, Jesus led His disciples to the region of Caesarea Philippi and asked His disciples, "But who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15) It was Simon Peter who replied, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16) To which Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father."

But we know from the closing verse of the Gospel of John Chapter 20 that Peter and John, the two disciples that most loved the Lord, did not yet understand fully all that was taking place on that first Lord's Day: "For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead." (John 20:9)

I am reminded of that earlier episode when all of those who had been following Jesus departed from Him and returned to their former way of life after the Bread of Life discourse in John 6. Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked if they would depart also. It was Simon Peter, always the impetuous one, who declared, not that they understood His teaching on the Eucharistic Presence, but rather, that they believed without understanding: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:68) I can so relate to Peter! God's truth has been revealed to him, and he so wants to understand, but for now, he settles for belief. But that belief is not yet mature – it is still child-like. That is how we are to approach the Lord – understanding will come in time if we remain faithful.

And now, on this Sunday morning following the Friday we call "Good" because of God's great love for us manifested on the Cross, we meet these very Apostles and disciples, whose lives are so turned upside down, yet again. During the three preceding years, they have come to believe, but not yet understand. Can you not imagine their anguish? The One they came to believe in, to place all their hopes in, the One they grew in love with day by day, has been crucified and has died. They believe Him to be buried in the sepulcher.

The Pain of Loss and Betrayal

How much their lives were impacted and devastated by these events, we can only imagine – and what we imagine is probably not severe enough. When Jesus was betrayed by Judas and arrested, they all fled in fear. They abandoned their Lord. Of His Apostles, only Peter and John followed Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest as He was taken away. And there, Peter denied His Lord, said he did not know the man – probably denying Him while seeing Him face to face. Of His Apostles, the Gospels record that only John was present at the foot of the Cross as Jesus was dying. All of the Apostles, each in his own way, were suffering due to their abandonment of the Lord and His death. Their world must have seemed lost. Can you begin to imagine?

And not only the Apostles, but there were also others who loved Him so much, and they were in anguish. The Gospel of John tells us that at the rising of the sun on that day – the day after the Sabbath – while it was still dark, Mary of Magdala arrived at the sepulcher to anoint the Lord's body. From the other Gospels we learn she was accompanied by other women, including, Mary – the mother of James, and Salome. A great earthquake had occurred and the stone, which had closed the sepulcher, was rolled away and they saw that the tomb was empty. Now what? Could a further indignity have been done to the Lord? Had they taken away His body… and to where? John, the beloved disciple, who loved Jesus so fervently, gave honor to Mary of Magdala, who also loved Jesus fervently, by mentioning only her in his Gospel account. I don't think we can hardly begin to understand their troubled hearts – but we must try, for in so understanding, we might begin to recognize our own anguish when we are separated from the Lord. Mary could not even wait for the sun to rise above the horizon – she had to be there to anoint the Lord's body at the earliest moment permitted by the Law. But His dead body was not there.

Where Have They Taken Him?

Mary of Magdala ran to where the Apostles, crying aloud her anguish, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him." (John 20:2)

The two Apostles who most loved the Lord ran to the sepulcher – the text states that John ran faster and arrived first, followed by Peter. He sees the empty tomb and stops, but Peter rushes in and looks over everything carefully. How fast and hard must his heart been beating. Where is He? What's happened? And then, a bit of light begins to penetrate both Peter and John to their very souls.

The cloths in which the Lord was buried would surely have stuck to His bloodied body, why were they here in the tomb and why were they arranged as they were with the head covering folded and set aside? Surely this is not what they would have expected to find if the authorities had taken away His body! A deepening belief… a small ray of understanding; were these their thoughts? Possibly!

It is said that they believed, but again, that closing verse (John 20:9) indicates yet a lack of understanding. Is there hope?

The Lord is Risen and What it Means

As the Gospel continues, we will learn of the encounter between the Risen Jesus and Mary of Magdala and her subsequent testimony to the Apostles. We will learn of His appearances to the Apostles. We will learn the rest of the story as they learn it. But try to imagine… try to place yourself in the lives of those disciples as they arose from rock bottom to new life and renewed hope and a strengthened faith! Is that not also our story? Have we not discovered in our lives for ourselves that resurrection can follow death and apparent defeat, no matter what forms it takes?

Of the crucifixion, St. Paul tells us, "For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." (1 Corinthians 1:22-24) Why… because the Resurrection is the rest of the story. What appeared at first to be Satan's defeat over the "Author of Life", is instead, shown to be the definitive victory of the Cross where the Resurrected Christ defeated death by rising from the dead.

A Look Ahead to New Life

This is what the Apostles came to understand through their post-resurrection encounters with Christ and through the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost… their lives were not over, they were just beginning – a gift from the One who makes all things new.

And this is what we must also come to believe – to believe in a way that utterly changes our lives. After traveling with the Lord through this Lent and His Passion and Death, we have arrived at new life – both during the remaining days of our life on earth and in fullness on the day of the Resurrection of our bodies when they will be reunited with our souls as the completion of time.

St. Paul, writing to the believers in Corinth (1 Corinthians 15) calls Jesus Christ the first-fruits of those who have died – and others who are yet die – in order to teach them the reality of the resurrection of the dead. But in his Epistle to the Ephesians, he also places the significance of the Resurrection right in the middle of our daily lives on earth. He speaks of the reality that we were dead in our sins, but now we are raised to new life, set apart for holiness. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10) Christ's Resurrection has made it possible for us to live lives pleasing to God.

We no longer need doubt the strength of the Cross to overcome our weakness. It matters not where you are or where you have been in relation to God. Christ has made it possible to live by His grace. As St. Paul declares, "For through the law I died to the law, that I might live for God, I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me." (Galatians 2:19-20 – emphasis added)

So as we celebrate the glorious Resurrection of the Lord this fine Easter Day, let us resolve to humbly surrender ourselves to the Lord, join our lives to His, dying as crucified with Him, and rising to new life with Him. Let this Easter be a turning point in our lives, freely and joyfully giving everything to Him. May you be blessed and filled with joy and new life in this Easter Season.

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! To Him be all praise, honor and glory!

About The Author:

Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life™. A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center's Business Conference. ...

Source: Into the deep, The Integrated Catholic Life

On St. Paul and the Resurrection

by Pope Benedict XVI

Two Facts Are Important: The Tomb Is Empty and Jesus Really Appeared

"And if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith. … You are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:14,17).

With these heavy words of the First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul makes clear how decisive is the importance that he attributes to the resurrection of Jesus. In this event, in fact, is the solution to the problem that the drama of the cross implies. On its own, the cross could not explain Christian faith; on the contrary, it would be a tragedy, a sign of the absurdity of being. The Paschal mystery consists in the fact that this Crucified One "was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:4) -- thus testifies the proto-Christian witness.

Here is the central key to Pauline Christology: Everything revolves around this gravitational center point. The whole teaching of the Apostle Paul departs from and always arrives at the mystery of the One whom the Father has risen from the dead. The Resurrection is a fundamental fact, almost a previous basic assumption (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:12), in base of which Paul can formulate his synthetic proclamation ("kerygma"): He who has been crucified, and who has thus manifested the immense love of God for man, has risen and is alive among us.

It is important to note the link between the proclamation and the Resurrection, just as Paul formulates it, and that which was used in the first pre-Pauline Christian communities. Here one can truly see the importance of the tradition that preceded the Apostle and that he, with great respect and attention, wanted in turn to convey. The text on the Resurrection, contained in Chapter 15:1-11 of the First Letter to the Corinthians, emphasizes well the nexus between "receive" and "transmit." St. Paul attributes great importance to the literal formulation of tradition; the end of the fragment we are examining highlights: "Whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you believed" (1 Corinthians 15:11), thus spotlighting the unity of the kerygma, of the proclamation for all believers and for all those who would announce the resurrection of Christ.

The tradition to which he unites is the fount from which to draw. The originality of his Christology is never in detriment to fidelity to tradition. The kerygma of the apostles always prevails over the personal re-elaboration of Paul; each one of his arguments flows from the common tradition, in which the faith shared by all the Churches, which are just one Church, is expressed.

And in this way, Paul offers a model for all times of how to do theology and how to preach. The theologian and the preacher do not create new visions of the world and of life, but rather are at the service of the truth transmitted, at the service of the real fact of Christ, of the cross, of the resurrection. Their duty is to help to understand today, behind the ancient words, the reality of "God with us," and therefore, the reality of true life.

Here it is opportune to say precisely: St. Paul, in announcing the Resurrection, does not concern himself with presenting an organic doctrinal exposition -- he does not want to practically write a theology manual -- but rather to take up the theme, responding to uncertainties and concrete questions that are posed him by the faithful. An episodic discourse, therefore, but full of faith and a lived theology. A concentration of the essential is found in him: We have been "justified," that is, made just, saved, by Christ, dead and risen, for us. The fact of the Resurrection emerges above all else, without which Christian life would simply be absurd. On that Easter morning something extraordinary and new happened, but at the same time, something very concrete, verified by very precise signs, attested by numerous witnesses.

Also for Paul, as for the other authors of the New Testament, the Resurrection is united to the testimony of those who have had a direct experience of the Risen One. It is about seeing and hearing not just with the eyes and the ears, but also with an interior light that motivates recognizing what the external senses verify as an objective datum. Paul therefore gives -- as do the four Evangelists -- fundamental relevance to the theme of the apparitions, which are a fundamental condition for faith in the Risen One who has left the tomb empty.

These two facts are important: The tomb is empty and Jesus really appeared. Thus is built this chain of tradition that, by way of the testimony of the apostles and the first disciples, would reach successive generations, up to us. The first consequence, or the first way to express this testimony, is preaching the resurrection of Christ as a synthesis of the Gospel message and as the culminating point of the salvific itinerary. All of this, Paul does on various occasions: One can consult the Letters and the Acts of the Apostles, where it can always be seen that the fundamental point for him is being a witness of the Resurrection.

I would like to cite just one text: Paul, under arrest in Jerusalem, is before the Sanhedrin as one accused. In this circumstance in which life and death are at stake, he indicates the meaning and the content of all his concern: "I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead" (Acts 23:6). Paul repeats this same refrain often in his Letters (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9ff, 4:13-18; 5:10), in which he invokes his personal experience, his personal encounter with the resurrected Christ (cf. Galatians 1:15-16; 1 Corinthians 9:1).

But we can ask ourselves: What is, for St. Paul, the deep meaning of the event of the resurrection of Jesus? What does he say to us 2,000 years later? Is the affirmation "Christ has risen" also current for us? Why is the Resurrection for him and for us today a theme that is so determinant?

Paul solemnly responds to this question at the beginning of the Letter to the Romans, where he makes an exhortation referring to the "gospel of God … about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:3-4).

Paul knows well and he says many times that Jesus was the Son of God always, from the moment of his incarnation. The novelty of the resurrection consists in the fact that Jesus, elevated from the humility of his earthly existence, has been constituted Son of God "with power." The Jesus humiliated till death on the cross can now say to the Eleven: "All power on heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18). What Psalm 2:8 says has been fulfilled: "Only ask it of me, and I will make your inheritance the nations, your possession the ends of the earth."

That's why with the resurrection begins the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to all peoples -- the Kingdom of Christ begins; this new Kingdom that does not know another power other than that of truth and love. The Resurrection therefore definitively reveals the authentic identity and the extraordinary stature of the Crucified: An incomparable and most high dignity -- Jesus is God! For St. Paul, the secret identity of Jesus, even more than in the incarnation, is revealed in the mystery of the resurrection. While the title "Christ," that is, "Messiah," "Anointed," in St. Paul tends to become the proper name of Jesus and that of Lord specifies his personal relationship with the believers, now the title Son of God comes to illustrate the intimate relationship of Jesus with God, a relationship that is fully revealed in the Paschal event. It can be said, therefore, that Jesus has risen to be the Lord of the living and the dead (cf. Romans 14:9 and 2 Corinthians 5:15) or, in other words, our Savior (cf. Romans 4:25).

All of this carries with it important consequences for our life of faith: We are called to participate from the depths of our being in the whole of the event of the death and resurrection of Christ. The Apostle says: We "have died with Christ" and we believe "that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him" (Romans 6:8-9).

This translates into sharing the sufferings of Christ, as a prelude to this full configuration with him through the resurrection, which we gaze upon with hope. This is also what has happened to Paul, whose experience is described in the Letters with a tone that is as much precise as realistic: "to know him and the power of his resurrection and (the) sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11; cf. 2 Timothy 2:8-12). The theology of the cross is not a theory -- it is a reality of Christian life. To live in faith in Jesus Christ, to live truth and love implies renunciations every day; it implies sufferings. Christianity is not a path of comfort; it is rather a demanding ascent, but enlightened with the light of Christ and with the great hope that is born from him.

St. Augustine says: Christians are not spared suffering; on the contrary, they get a little extra, because to live the faith expresses the courage to face life and history more deeply. And with everything, only in this way, experiencing suffering, we experience life in its depth, in its beauty, in the great hope elicited by Christ, crucified and risen. The believer finds himself between two poles: on one side, the Resurrection, which in some way is already present and operative in us (cf. Colossians 3:1-4; Ephesians 2:6), and on the other, the urgency of fitting oneself into this process that leads everyone and everything to plenitude, as described in the Letter to the Romans with audacious imagination: As all of creation groans and suffers near labor pains, in this way we too groan in the hope of the redemption of our body, of our redemption and resurrection (cf. Romans 8:18-23).

In sum, we can say with Paul that the true believer obtains salvation professing with his lips that Jesus is Lord and believing in his heart that God has raised him from the dead (cf. Romans 10:9). Important above all is the heart that believes in Christ and in faith "touches" the Risen One. But it is not enough to carry faith in the heart; we should confess it and give testimony with the lips, with our lives, thus making present the truth of the cross and the resurrection in our history.

In this way, the Christian fits himself in this process thanks to which the first Adam, earthly and subject to corruption and death, goes transforming into the last Adam, heavenly and incorruptible (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20 - 22:42-49). This process has been set in motion with the resurrection of Christ, in which is founded the hope of being able to also enter with Christ into our true homeland, which is heaven. Sustained with this hope, let us continue with courage and joy.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Source: Translation of the address by Pope Benedict XVI delivered on November 5, 2008 at St. Peter's Square. © Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Easter Homily

by St. John Chrysostom, 4th Century

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!

If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;

If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!

And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.

And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.

And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.

To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
Rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.

Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

The 'So What' of The Resurrection

by Dr. Joe McKeever

"Therefore, my beloved brethren…." (I Corinthians 15:58)

Think of these as resurREACTIONS.

Every sermon, they say, should be made up of two parts, the "what" and the "so what."

Today is Easter Sunday. Churches across the globe are reading selections from Matthew 28, Luke 24, Mark 16, John 20, and I Corinthians 15 about the Lord Jesus' victory over death, hell, and the grave.

We're covering the "what" of the resurrection fairly well, I'd say.

But we must not stop there.

The whole point of the Lord's rising from the dead is what it says about the Lord Jesus, what that says to the enemy, and the difference this should make to believers.

1) Jesus was right.

"After a little while, the world will behold me no more; but you will behold me; because I live, you shall live also; In that day, you shall know that I am in the Father, and you in Me, and I in you." (John 14:19-20)

In the great "Resurrection Chapter" (I Corinthians 15), the Apostle Paul knocks this one out of the park by listing all the things we would lose if Jesus is not risen. (See I Cor. 15:13-19)

Everything comes down to whether Jesus is risen or not. If not, let's go home; it's all over for us, like the Emmaus travelers of Luke 24. But if He is risen, the world has changed forever.

Once you settle the resurrection of Jesus, everything else falls into place.

2) Satan is whipped.

"…that through death, He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives." (Hebrews 2:14-15)

He is defeated and death has been neutered. The image John saw of the risen, ascended, glorified Christ in Revelation 1 has Him holding the keys to death, hell, and the grave in His hands (Rev. 1:18).

"O death, where is thy sting?" (I Corinthians 15:55) Where, indeed.

The Christ-person takes a lot of things into consideration before acting, but one of them is not what does Satan think.

3) Death is out of business.

"…by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (II Timothy 1:10)

"O grave, where is your victory? O death, where is thy sting?" (We cannot say this too often!)

"And so shall we ever be with the Lord." (I Thessalonians 4:17)

The Christ-person sees death only as an entrance into Heaven. Fear that? Are you kidding?

4) There is hope, that hope is a Person, and He is alive.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (I Peter 1:3)

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. When all around my soul gives way, He then is still my hope and stay.

The Christ-person is always smiling. Always hopeful. Ever expectant. (And how that does irritate the enemy!)

5) Jesus is still alive and He is with us.

"Where two or three have gathered together in my name, there am I in their midst." (Matthew 18:20)

"…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20)

"I will not leave you as orphans," Jesus said (John 14:18). "I will come to you."

Christ-people are never alone, never on our own.

6) Believers have the best message ever, the one people are dying to hear.

"…for which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher." (II Timothy 1:11)

"…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved." (Romans 10:9)

Our challenge is to cut through the clutter of religion–much of it our own doing–in order to convey the essential truth that God loves, Jesus came and lived and taught and died and rose again, and it was "for you."

Christ-people have the best message ever. It's not called "good news" for nothing.

7) We who are in Christ will live forever.

"But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who are asleep." (I Corinthians 15:20)

"Because I live, you also shall live." (John 14:19)

Christ-people take the long view of matters. "Our momentary light affliction is working for us an exceeding weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen…." (II Corinthians 4:17-18)

It's all good.

8) Never again is there a place for fear or unbelief, anxiety or cowardice in the lives and ministries of believers.

Christ-people are characterized by an all-consuming faith in the victory of the Lord Jesus Christ!

"But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Corinthians 15:57)

"God has not given us the spirit of fear (timidity), but of power and love and a sound judgment." (II Timothy 1:7)

"But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day." (II Timothy 1:12)

Christ-people do not ask how much money is in the bank, what talents do we have among us, or what would a reasonable person do? They want to know one thing and one only: "What does the Lord want us to do?" (Acts 22:10)

9) Our negativity is an insult to the living Christ.

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)

Those whose joy is rooted in the culture will always be frightened out of their socks by happenings around them. Those anchored in Christ expect the deterioration of society that comes from lostness and are not surprised when governments give up their historic standards to accommodate voters. They simply keep on telling the gospel, keep on rejoicing in the Lord, and maintain a steady focus on Him.

Christ-people know how to believe against all odds, to rejoice in the midst of a storm, and to work when everyone else has given up and gone home.

10) You have a power for living and overcoming that is supernatural.

"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings…." (Philippians 3:10).

"Did I not say to you that if you believe, you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:40) Having asked this of Martha, Jesus then raised her brother to life.

And the bottom line? The ultimate resurREACTION? It's this….

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." (I Corinthians 15:58)

Mary Magdalene - Wholehearted Devotion

by Greg Laurie

Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene. . . . - Mark 16:9

Of all the people Jesus could have appeared to first after His resurrection, He appeared to Mary Magdalene. It is interesting to think about, because among the Jews of the day, the testimony of a woman was not held in high regard. In fact, some of the rabbis falsely taught that it was better for the words of the Law to be burned than to be delivered by a woman. Yet Jesus chose a woman to be the first herald of His resurrection.

It is also worth noting that women were the last at the cross and the first at the tomb. Mary had courage that many of the men did not have when Jesus was crucified. She stood by Him through it all. In fact, the Bible tells us that after He was crucified, Mary "observed where He was laid" (Mark 15:47). She watched as they took His crucified body from the cross and wrapped it and placed it in a tomb that belonged to Joseph of Arimathea. And Mary, along with the other women, was at the tomb very early on Sunday morning to demonstrate her love for Jesus by anointing his body with spices (see Mark 16:1–2).

And her love was rewarded. God said, "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). God rewards the person who is diligent. And for those who will take time in their day to seek the Lord, for those who will take time to read His Word, for those who will take time to wait upon Him, He will reveal His truths to them.

Copyright © 2012 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

Easter: All That Matters vs. All I Live For

by Shawn McEvoy, Crosswalk.com Managing Editor

He has risen, just as He said.
Matthew 28:6, NIV

What would I ever do if someone I knew came back from the dead? Especially if he had said he would, and if he had spent a couple nights in a grave already?

Seriously, what would I do? What would you do? Wouldn't I blab to everyone I know - and most people I don't - about this miraculous event? Heck, I tell everyone when I'm feeling under the weather or when I saw a good movie.

Then factor in that the same guy was now telling us that because of what he had done, none of the rest of us would ever have to suffer death. What's more, simply by believing what we had seen, no matter our background, history, race, or education, we could restore our long-lost connection with the Almighty, and live forever.

Man... unfortunately, I'm having a hard time conceiving what I would do. Or, even if I can conceive it, I can't quite believe it, because honestly, I have seen this, I do believe this, and yet my daily reaction to it doesn't exactly line up with The Acts of the Apostles.

Has the news of a resurrected savior really become passe?

Why don't I want to read Acts?

What am I afraid of?

That I'll be rejected?

(He who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 4:8)).

That I won't be powerful enough?

(God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7)).

That the good news isn't relevant enough?

Salvation and the message of the resurrection, the miracle of born again-ness, is a salve to all wounds.

This Easter I'll join choruses like "He's Alive" while pondering and praising the miracle, but when it comes time for the next day of my life to begin, a day and a life that means nothing if not lived for my Savior, it'll be all about me again and my troubles and making my way and who cut me off and what I have to get done and who I don't like and what can we complain about today.

Yuck.

I want this Easter to be real. Because I did see it happen (so to speak; the resulting spread of those who ran to the corners of the earth to tell the story with no regard for personal safety is traceable to this day), it is real, and I'm cheating life and people God loves if I'm not shouting those facts from every corner and rooftop I can find. Everything else is just window dressing; "Christian living" is often just how we pass all our extra time in this country where so many of our basic needs are so easily met, and where we can cordon ourselves off from each other. What matters in life?

That there is life, and...
how it came about that there might never be death, but...
there are still dead men walking.

Really, why else are we here if not to keep excitedly shouting the truth of the miracle as if we'd just experienced it with our own eyes yesterday?

Intersecting Faith & Life:

For the longest time, I've felt a leading in my heart to launch out into a complete study of the book of Acts, something I've never fully done. For some reason, I continue to put it off. But in my quest this year to make Easter real, I'm beginning a study of what those who witnessed the resurrection couldn't keep themselves from going out and doing. Care to join me?

Further Reading
Acts 1:1

Source: Crosswalk.com - The Devotional

Classic Australian Recipe: Banbury Cakes

by Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. Pastry
1 oz. Currants
1 oz. Raisins
Half a Lemon
Half an Orange
1 oz. Cake or Bread Crumbs
1 oz. Sugar

Directions:

Chop the raisins lightly, put them into a basin with the currants cleaned, the sugar, and the cake or bread crumbs. Mix together, grate over the rind of half a lemon, and half an orange. Strain in the juice, and let it stand for an hour. Roll out the pastry and cut into rounds about three inches long. Lay a little of the mixture in the centre, close over the pastry, turn the cake over, flatten it out in the middle. Brush over with sugar, and bake in rather a quick oven. Serve warm.

Total Time - 20 Minutes.

Family Special: Sharing an Unexpected Easter With Your Loved Ones

by Pam and Bill Farrel

Surprise!

Most people love to hear the word "surprise" or love to be surprised with a gift, a kind gesture, or tender word. In 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband, I share how most men love the word "surprise" because it means things have not become stale or routine. So astonish, astound, and amaze that husband of yours and plan a big surprise! Thrill, cheer, excite your children with an Easter surprise. Flabbergast your parents with a gift of gratefulness! Stun your relatives and actually send a persona written note or make a phone call on Easter weekend to wish them well or find out what's new in their world and how you can pray for them.

Wow Assignment

To wow your man you need some information, so put on that thinking cap: What is his life-long dream? Where are those special places from his past? Where has he always hoped to go? What activity replenishes him most?

To wow a child, fill a basket with a mix of his or her favorite treats, some beloved practical items (swim suit, shorts, sandals) and some fun yet meaningful activities (Easter books, coloring pages, stuffed animals, like a lamb to represent Jesus as the Lamb of God).

To wow a relative, especially a mom, dad or grandparent, words expressing thankfulness for his or her sacrifice, how they have loved you like God loves, or how his or her life has shown God's light to your life is just the welcome surprise he or she longs for. A bonus wow is if you pick up the check for Easter dinner!

Wow Wisdom

God loves to give surprises too. The Easter story includes the surprise delivered by angels who proclaimed Jesus' resurrection:

"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them…the men said to them, "He is not here; he has risen!" (Luke 24:1-6).

When you think about it, the core of Easter is the precious and welcome surprise of Romans 5:8: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. " Christ's resurrection is the proof to the promise of His great love.

Wow Plan

Create a plan to wow your loved ones. If married, the most important part of the romantic surprise is the invitation. Here are a few ideas from some of my friends that really wowed their husbands:

"I sprinkled red silk hearts all over his desk and office. There was also a note on his desk indicating my intentions for the evening."

"On our fifteenth wedding anniversary, I told my hubby I wanted to eat at a special restaurant. During dessert, I excused myself to go to the powder room. The maître d' then came over to my husband and said, "The lady left this card for you." Inside was a key to a hotel room where I was waiting.

"I tied a key to our favorite mountain cabin on the string of a Mylar balloon and tucked it into his briefcase. When he opened his case in the middle of a business meeting, he was surprised with the good news of a relaxing getaway. "

For your children, wow them with an Easter Egg hunt - but add meaning and significance by going to your local Christian bookstore and pick up a dozen plastic eggs that also tell the resurrection story. Add in more eggs and hide special treats, coins, or coupons for special one on one mommy and me or daddy and me memory making adventures.

For relatives, give the gift of words of affirmation. Speak life and love into the heart of the people you love with a card, a call, or a special Easter weekend visit. Make it creative by placing messages in a series of Easter cards or eggs placed along their path the week or the day of Easter. Tuck a note of kind words in his or her Bible, pocketbook, billfold, a bouquet of spring flowers or on a plate of his or her favorite food.

Pray, ask God to show you how to wow and surprise all those you love and value this Easter. And if the surprise requires a little sacrifice on your part, listen for the "applause from heaven" because you are loving the way God loves.

About The Author:

Pam and Bill Farrel are international speakers, relationship experts and authors of over 38 books including Pam's 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband and The Secret Language of Successful Couples.

Source: Live It Devotional

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