Pastor's Desk Notes

March 31, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In his 1975 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope St. Paul VI wrote “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” On this Easter Sunday, the first reading gives an account of St. Peter’s powerful witness. He testifies to the history: Jesus came into the world, proclaimed a message of healing and hope, was crucified in Jerusalem, and rose from the dead. Peter tells his listeners that he and the other apostles have been given the mission to testify to these events. From our moment in history, we can look back and see that this mission was lived out, as the apostles gave their testimony not only in words and teachings, but with the very manner of their lives.

These great apostolic witnesses are inspired by the witness given in the Gospel today. St. Mary Magdalene, is, in many ways, the first witness. Her fidelity to Jesus impelled her to go to the tomb to pray. Finding it empty, she goes to Peter and bears witness that something has happened. Her testimony is enough for him to go and see, though he and John leave the tomb before anything else can happen. Mary, however, remains a while longer at the tomb, and as a result, encounters the Risen Jesus. Our Lord sends her to testify to the apostles, to share with them the joyful news that not only is the tomb empty, but Jesus has really been raised and she has seen Him. Mary Magdalene becomes a living witness to the other apostles. Through her initial testimony, St. Peter went to the tomb. Through her continued testimony, St. Peter began to understand the powerful truth of the Resurrection.

As we celebrate this great solemnity of Easter, the witness of the apostles and Mary Magdalene can serve as an inspiration for each of us, called also to bear witness in the world to the joyful news of the Resurrection. Mary did not fully understand what had happened yet was able to lend her voice to tell the story. Peter did not fully comprehend the cost of witness yet spoke boldly of the truth of Jesus Christ. Every baptized Christian is called to share the good news of Jesus Christ in some way.  We may worry that our understanding is incomplete. We may fear the implications of sharing the fact that we believe with others. In the face of these concerns, St. Paul VI continues the quote above with these words: “It is therefore primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelize the world…the witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world, in short, the witness of sanctity” (Evangelii Nuntiandi 41). The Apostles and first followers of Christ were not perfect. By the power of Christ risen from the tomb, though, they were able to be authentic witnesses and transformed the whole course of human history.

Today is Easter Sunday. Whether we find ourselves enjoying a deeper understanding of the Gospel, or struggling to indicate to anyone that we believe in Jesus, the mystery we celebrate today urges us forward. The tomb is empty. With Peter, John, and Mary Magdalene, we too are witnesses of this great mystery. Like the apostles, we have passed through the challenging test of Lent, and the sufferings of Holy Week. May we share in their joy today as we celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection. Truly He is risen from the grave! Death and sin have no power, for Jesus has defeated everlasting death and won forgiveness for our sins! The mercy of God endures forever in our Risen Savior. What a privilege for us to be witnesses of these things. Happy Easter!


Fr. Sam