Yesterday I spoke about how testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus demands a decision from us. If you accept the resurrection testimony as true, then you must also contend that everything that the Lord Jesus said about himself is true- that he truly is God, Lord and King.
If you accept this, then you must also accept that your life belongs to him.
If this is our decision, and our life belongs to him, then Christ will invite us to participate in his divine life in an extraordinary way- by becoming part of his mystical body, the Church. This is what today’s scripture from the Book of Acts is presenting to us today. The Apostle Peter is receiving people into the Church- he is offering them the opportunity to participate in the Church. The decision for Christ must lead into the Church.
Once received into the Church, the Apostle Peter testifies that we will receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the love shared between Christ and his Heavenly Father, and as such, what Peter is offering is that one will receive in the Church the relationship Christ has with his Heavenly Father. This is what the Holy Spirit is and what the Holy Spirit effects in our lives. If you receive the Holy Spirit, you are receiving the relationship that Christ has with his Heavenly Father.
Belonging to Christ and the Church is not a matter of signing up for a program or matriculating through an institution, but of living in relationship to God in Christ. It is through Jesus Christ that we receive a relationship with God and it is through the Church that our relationship with Jesus Christ becomes what Christ intends for it to be- a whole way of life.
Christ’s Gospel for today presents more eyewitness testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Christ is alive and he presents himself to his friends and followers.
This is a remarkable and unexpected experience for Christ’s disciples and as such the Gospel testifies that many times Christ’s own followers had a difficult time believing or understanding what was happening. Remember, Christ’s followers had witnessed his death, and now he is alive.
The living Christ presents himself to Mary Magdalene, and once she is able to come to terms with this encounter, she clings to Christ. And then Christ admonishes her, insisting that she should let him go.
What Christ is indicating is that very soon Mary’s encounter with Christ will change, from that of an encounter with the body of his Incarnation to an encounter with the body of Christ in the Church. The power of Christ’s resurrection is still active and working, but the means by which this power is displayed is now in the Church.
The Church is not an incidental add on to the revelation of Jesus Christ, but is integral to what the revelation of Christ is all about. The divine, life giving power of Christ is here right now. Mary Magdalene learned to see and accept the reality of Christ alive in his Church. Have we?