Encounter the Risen Christ

Dear Friends in Christ:

Christ is risen!  Christ is truly risen!  Alleluia!

This message of Christ risen from the dead means everything to us who are the disciples and followers of Jesus.  It is the central tenet of our Christian faith that Jesus Christ, who is both God and Man, was born, lived, was crucified on the cross and died, and after three days rose from the dead.  To those who do not know Jesus it seems like foolishness and utter nonsense!  A man risen from the dead.  Are you kidding me?  Look at and “follow the science and the data!”  How silly!  What superstition!  Might as well believe in giant Flying Spaghetti Monsters in the sky!  Gallup has released a study that shows that fewer than 50% of Americans belong to any church.  This is a first for our country.  Yet, around the globe, more and more people are coming to believe in Jesus, while fewer people in our society understand what we mean when we say that Christ is risen from the dead and a smaller percentage of people in our country believe in Jesus.

So who is right?

When we examine the Scriptures, we can see that the first followers of Jesus had a hard time believing too.  These were not his enemies or disinterested bystanders.  These were the apostles, disciples and followers of Jesus. Those closest to Him and those who believed in Him did not immediately believe or accept that Jesus had risen from the dead.  The Apostle Thomas is perhaps the most renown but he was not alone.  None of the apostles, disciples and followers immediately said, “Oh yeah!  I am not surprised.  I knew Jesus was going to do that!”  No, they were weeping, hiding, downcast, scared and getting the heck out of Dodge!  So much for being ‘of great faith’!

What turned the apostles and disciples around?

The answer to that is simple.  Jesus did.  The Risen Jesus.  What turned the disciples and apostles around literally and figuratively is that each of them had a personal encounter with the Risen Lord.  They were the ones who saw him crucified.  They were the ones who saw his bloody, pierced, tortured dead body.  They were the ones who saw his lifeless corpse placed in the tomb.  They were also the ones who personally saw and encountered Jesus alive and risen from the dead!  Not the memory of Jesus, not the on-going, beautiful teachings of the carpenter/rabbi from Nazareth, not the “spirit of the movement.”  What they encountered was the Jesus who was put to death and is now raised from the dead.  Time and time again, Jesus appeared to them.  He called them by name.  He spoke to them.  He challenged them.  He continued to teach them and He answered their prayers.  They each had a personal encounter with the Risen Jesus.  They were not hallucinating or having a mental episode.

For 2000 years men and women have continued to encounter Jesus.  In this encounter with the Risen Christ, we come to know Him and He changes our lives.  Again, we come to know the living Lord; not the idea of the Lord.  Jesus still comes to us.  He still teaches us, heals us, comforts us, challenges us and above all, loves us.  And we love him!  To those who have a hard time accepting that Jesus is risen from the dead, we might want to see if they have ever met Jesus and encountered Him.  It isn’t difficult.  Jesus will do most of the work.  What we have to do is open our minds and hearts to Him. Listen to Him and talk to Him.  Let the Risen Jesus change your life!

Christ is risen!  Christ is truly risen!  Alleluia!

Happy Easter!

In pace Christi,
Fr. Troy