"Breaking Open the Word" :
James Cavanagh is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. His weekly column, "Breaking Open the Word," is syndicated by the Denver Catholic Register, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Click here to visit the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Denver.
April 24: Easter Sunday
The first half of Acts covers the spread of the Gospel in Jerusalem and the surrounding region. The second half focuses on Paul’s three missionary journeys to Cyprus, Asia Minor and Greece.
In this week’s first reading Peter preaches the basic Gospel message, or kerygma to a Roman centurion and his family in Caesarea (about 40-50 miles northwest of Jerusalem on the coast).His speech follows a typical pattern: First, he describes Jesus’ earthly ministry, culminating in his death “on a tree.”
Second, he proclaims Christ’s resurrection, which confirms everything he said and did. Third, he explains how he and other witnesses were chosen by God and commissioned to preach this message. Fourth, Peter offers the promise of salvation for all who believe.
The second reading explains, very simply, what follows from having “been raised with Christ” in baptism: we are to “seek the things that are above.” Although details vary, each account of the resurrection in the Gospels begins by describing how the disciples discovered that the tomb where Jesus was buried was empty.
The empty tomb was a necessary condition of the resurrection, since the presence of a corpse would have certainly invalidated the kerygma. An important sign of the resurrection, in addition to the empty tomb, were the burial cloths that were conspicuously left behind. It turns out the tomb wasn’t empty after all!
Key verse: “(Simon Peter) went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there” (Jn 20:6).
Life application: Belief in the bodily resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of our faith. It’s not an “idle tale” (Lk 24:11) or a myth made up by the followers of Jesus. It was a real event that happened at a particular time and place. The burial cloths are concrete evidence of the Resurrection.
Many people believe, as tradition has long held, that the Shroud of Turin is precisely just those “burial cloths” that Peter and John saw that first Easter morning. One does not have to believe that the Shroud of Turin is in fact the burial cloths of Jesus. But one does have to believe that he rose bodily from the grave.
This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it.
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. Cavanagh’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register.
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