Many of you went deeply into Holy Week. A parishioner of St Stephen's who has been here for many years remarked about how she had never seen so many students here for Holy Week services. You went to the depths of Holy Week in liturgy and prayer, but you also lived Holy Week. Last week was difficult to be a GW Catholic on campus; this week might be the same. We are simply standing up for what we believe. We are not afraid to be faithful to Christ and His Church even if it means persecution. Jesus says, "if the world hates you, realize it hated me first".
The Apostles and disciples went to the depths of the Cross. They witnessed Christ's brutal Passion and Death. It was unspeakably brutal and torturous. We showed "The Passion of the Christ" on Friday night; in just about every scene, there were winces and cries. He went through hell and then he died. This was their leader...their master...their friend...their savior. And, he was gone. For three days, they were in complete darkness.
If someone close to you has died, then you know how unbearable it is. It is overwhelming sadness and grief. They had that plus all of the incredible promise of who Jesus was to humanity. Remember, he would read scrolls from the prophets about the Messiah - majorly revered texts for Jews - and say, "this is fulfilled in your hearing". They heard this and saw all of his miracles and healings, and thought that he was the Messiah. But, for three days, he was dead. So was there no hope. Jesus brought hope for eternal life; but that was dead for three days. What utter despair and depression they must have experienced.
But, then on the third day, there was news that he might be alive. A woman brought this good news to the men. By the way, where were all the men? There were women at the tomb and at the Cross, but only one man, John, was there. Then, Mary Magdelene brings news of the empty tomb, and the men don't believe her! Peter decides to check it out. He and John run as fast as they can to the tomb. All of that enormous negative emotion which they had for three days has been transformed into enormous excitement.
They get to the tomb and see the burial cloths. They saw and believed. What did they see? First, the tomb was empty. Second, the burial cloths were flat. Christ went through them! He was literally raised up out of them and then they fell flat. He truly transcended the laws of nature. This is different from Lazarus who basically woke up from sleep and had to have his bandages removed.
One other thing about the burial cloth which we believe to be the "Shroud of Turin": tests done on it have revealed traces of radiation. Something nuclear happened in the tomb. Something heavenly happened. Christ was truly raised from the dead! This was apparent to the disciples when they first arrived; they saw the evidence of this, and believed.
We still see the evidence of this because Christ is raised. He lives! We see His risen Body and Blood in the Eucharist and believe. We see His joy and love in the saints and believe. Hopefully, others see our joy and love and come to believe. I have seen this happen many times in my four years at GW: students see that Christ lives through you, and they believe. May the Eucharist help us this week to be witnesses to the Resurrection. Even in the midst of persecution, let us show His joy, His love, His kindness, and His mercy. Let us show that He lives!