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Witness to the Resurrection

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by Rev. Theodore H. Chelpon

Several years ago I saw a successful play with the title Witness. It wa a graphic evidence of just how dangerous it can be to come forward and to bear witness to the truth. And yet it is the will of the Risen Lord that all His disciples be precisely this, witnesses to His Resurrection to the breaths and corners of the earth. We heard it in the Resurrection Liturgy taken from Acts: "...then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world" (Acts 1:8). It behooves us then to learn a little more about this commandment.

As a rule in order for someone to become a witness he must be an eye and ear witness of the events to which he is testifying--or, at least, to have in his hands unshakable evidence. This is why the above command of the Lord had as its basic receivers the Apostles who had lived the events of the Passion first hand and had seen with their eyes the risen Christ. They touched Him, they spoke with Him, ate with Him and walked with Him. For them the Resurrection was a marvelous event, yet at the same time sure and true. For this reason they taught themselves with all their strength to preach this to all the world, to reassure those that heard them even at the risk of their own lives.

Today this command of Christ is addressed to us regardless of the age in which we live. We are asked to assure and preach the Resurrection everywhere, and we question how this is possible when we have not seen with our eyes that which we are asked to witness to. At first glance this objection might seem logical, but it isn't and here's why. The way one receives knowledge about something does not influence the quality of the knowledge. There are times when we are less sure if we saw someone with our own eyes, than if we were reassured of that person's presence by others in whom we have total confidence.

Certainly, St. Paul was neither an eye nor an ear witness of the events of the Passion, yet no one spoke with more conviction about the Resurrection than did he--nor with more success. All this was possible because he came to know the Risen Christ in his life. This same approach can be taken by us.

Even though we are separated from the Passion by 2,000 years, we can all become Pauls because these events are beyond time and not limited by history and historical memory. Human logic takes a back seat, because, "God's Spirit has shown you everything. His Spirit finds out everything, even what is deep in the mind of God." For us the Resurrection is alive; it is a daily presence in our lives. We see it, we live it. It matters not at all whether we were alive in 33 A.D. or not. What matters is that we live in Christ, that the Risen Christ makes His presence "touchable" inside us. He speaks with us, He fills our lives and keeps us company.

When, for me, the Resurrection is not a simple event but a condition of life; when, for me, Christ is not a distant God foreign to my needs, but is my brother; when His resurrection opened the way for mine and yours; then I need no further proof. I hold the evidence in my hand, I live it, I remember it. In this way I become His witness any hour, any day.