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‘He is risen’ – Salesian Father Frank Freeman writes about the resurrection, the heart of our faith

He is risen: This 15th-century painting from the Royal Library of Turin in Italy shows an empty tomb depicting the Resurrection. Easter, the chief feast in the liturgical calendars of all Christian churches, commemorates Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Photo: CNS

IT is a difficult task to change people’s attitude or mind-set, as anyone engaged in education will readily tell you.  

To change whole personalities, to turn around life’s patterns, needs a miracle.

Twelve men, unlettered in the main, yet skilled in the practical aspects of the fishermen trade, once followed Christ for diverse reasons. Some dreamt of an earthly kingdom in which they would have power and prestige. 

Others imagined they would be endowed with great supernatural powers.   

All however bathed in the reflected popularity of the new teacher from Nazareth. 

The shame of their leader’s public execution, however, shattered all such dreams. 

In fear, they huddled together in the upper room, behind locked doors and then retired to their old working haunts, the shores of Lake Galilee.

In these two places they were totally transformed by a power, which, measured by its all-pervading effects, must have been supernatural. And what a transformation it was.

They went out fearlessly to proclaim to the whole known world, that “He has Risen”, and this despite encountering opposition and ridicule on all sides.

Now no longer petty factions, bickering among themselves as to “who was the greatest”; no longer weak and indecisive; no longer beating a coward’s retreat in the face of opposition, but strong and courageous, united to seed the world with His words and His ways. 

I often think that such a transformation is the greatest proof of the Resurrection.

Yes, even in mighty Rome, then the centre of political power, wealth, munificence and materialism, they had the courage to preach the ridiculous idea that a person, crucified as a common criminal under Roman law, was in fact God Incarnate. 

That was just as absurd to the Romans as the idea of a supreme Deity is to today’s professed atheists, or the idea of chastity to today’s sexually permissive society. 

How sincere were these twelve transformed men? 

The proof of their sincerity lay in their spilled blood. 

Nor did it all end with Roman swords blunted by Christian bodies, or wild beasts satiated with Christian blood. 

The cycles of the years have spun away into history, yet each cycle has produced millions of transformed hearts, minds and voices to echo the cry… “He has risen”. 

In our own times, great eternal truths have been dissolved away by the acids of disbelief, selfishness and ignorance.

We need now more than ever, brave followers of Christ, to witness to the fact that, despite the hopelessness which seems to have settled over us, despite our inability to solve the major world problems, a radical transformation is still possible. 

It is the “Light of Christ”, that same power which long ago transformed simple fishermen into giants of apostles, which can still radically change our materialistic, pleasure-loving, selfish society into a “kingdom of justice, a kingdom of love, peace and understanding.”

This Eastertide, let us, encouraged by our Lenten prayer, self-denial and almsgiving, be bold enough not only to hope and pray for such a transformation but also with uplifted voices, confidently proclaim “He is risen … He is risen indeed’.

Fr Frank Freeman is a Salesian of Don Bosco. He has been the editor of the Australian Salesian Bulletin for many years.

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