Witnessing to the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the parochial vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details contact him on:firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or +23408063767512
On August 3rd, 1997, Olukoye Ransome-Kuti, a prominent AIDS activist and former Minister of Health, stunned the nation by announcing the death of his younger brother Fela Anikulapo Kuti from Kaposi’s sarcoma which was brought about by AIDS. A night before, Fela’s burial I witnessed a parade of commercial motorcycle riders who displayed different forms of acrobatics on their bikes. What really struck me was the song they were singing. It was our own very popular Christian song that they have converted in honour of their master and afro beat legend: “He is alive, Amen! He is alive!! Fela is alive forever he is alive, Amen!!! At first, I laughed, but on reflecting over what Fela’s disciples sang, I came to the conclusion that indeed Fela is still alive even though he was dead at least in the annals of history and in the memory of his followers. Indeed “Fela lives on”, as most of his posters today bear.
The question we must ask ourselves is: If the disciples of a mere mortal (Fela) strongly believe he is still alive or lives on, and so, were proud to witness to what they believed, what of us Christians whose Lord and Master – Jesus Christ, tell us: I am the Living One. I was dead and now I am to live forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and of the underworld…”? (Rev 1, 9ff) As we see from today’s first reading, the resurrection power is at work in the life and works of believers and the apostles of Jesus Christ. Through this power many are coming to believe and miracles are worked. Jesus himself is manifesting his ever-living presence through his apostles and among people of all nations. Thus, bringing to fulfillment what Paul tells us that: “… If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies…”(Rom 8, 11). In the gospel of today, Jesus showed himself to his timid disciples who for the fear of the Jews locked themselves up in the upper room. This visit is very significant first of all in order to convince them that he is real. In order words, he did this to dispel their doubts. Second, he understood quite well that they were afraid and needed to restore their confidence. Hence, he came in and said “peace be with you” and breathed into them the resurrection power in order to empower them for the work ahead. Once Jesus accomplished this mission of showing himself to the disciples and empowering them, they became courageous again and the cloud of fear and doubt disappeared.
Today therefore, Jesus reassures us of his ever living presence with us, this time around, in a more substantial, powerful and glorified manner. We therefore need to tap from his resurrection power in order to live as he lives. However, before we can experience this power and begin to witness to it as the apostles did we must first of all cast away all fears and doubts within us. Doubt and fear are twin brothers and limit the greatest effort and power in the world. We must therefore expel all “thomistic tendencies” that make it difficult for us to believe in the resurrection power of Christ. We must allow the peace that the resurrected Christ brings to us permeate our lives and so cast away every doubt and fear of the unknown in our lives. This power brings us healing of body and mind and restores us to life which is God’s purpose for us. Beloved, as we witness to the resurrection power of Christ let us give thanks to God whose love and mercy endures forever, and who counted us worthy of sharing in this power.
Peace be with you.