A stone out of place, an empty tomb, rolled-up burial cloths: these items convince the Apostles that Jesus has risen from the dead. Dimly they begin to recognize Him as the Beloved Son, God’s Anointed, and Savior of the world. Soon they become authoritative witnesses to His Resurrection. The Eastern Churches call Mary of Magdala “Equal to the Apostles” because she is among the first to receive and to share the Good News. She shares it with the Apostles, whose testimony eventually becomes the Church’s first evangelization. The first apostolic homilies, such as Peter conveyed to the crowds, present the content of the True Faith as well as their relationship with the Lord. The very same content and relationship are meant for the Apostles’ audience—which includes the Church in our own day.
Return to the two apostles at the empty tomb. Perhaps because of his youth, the Beloved Disciple is the first to arrive. He symbolizes Apostolic Love. Peter, the "Keeper of the Keys" (cf. Mt 16:18), represents Apostolic Office. Love comes first, but defers to Office. The Church abides no competition between them. The same Holy Spirit fosters both gifts for God’s glory and for our good.
Recall that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had declared a Year of Faith that concludes in November. How does this relate to our current celebration of Easter? The Apostolic witness gives the Church a program for evangelization, a plan to inbue the world with Christ’s joyful, responsible love. Think of it as “Passing the BUCK,” where BUCK stands for Belief, Understanding, Conviction, and Kindness.
We are here today because of the trust that ignited the Apostles' preaching and healing. The Holy Spirit has guided the Apostles and their successors to provide an articulation of doctrine and morality. We do well to devote some daily effort, however small, to learn something about our Catholic faith so that we have something useful and beautiful to share. Our conviction can inspire people to pay attention. They may not always, or ever, agree; but they will take notice. As our new Holy Father Pope Francis has quietly demonstrated, compassion also raises eyebrows. We reach out to people, we grant and seek forgiveness, we change our behavior, just because it’s the right thing to do; but we know the power of a good example. It speaks so loudly that you cannot hear a word we say.
Clearing out what St. Paul calls the stale, old leaven—whatever in our lives ought to be cast aside for the sake of God, neighbor, and self—we become more receptive to the divine life and become effective evangelists. Belief, Understanding, Conviction, and Kindness: get these things, pass them on, and watch what happens!