Opening the Word: You know what happened


Peter begins his speech in Acts with an act of provocative rhetoric. He preaches, “You know what happened all over Judea …” (Acts 10:37).

You know.

You know that Jesus of Nazareth preached the Good News.

You know that he was the Anointed One, the Messiah.

You know that he was put to death as a common criminal, hung upon a tree.

You know that the Father raised him on the third day.

You know.

But do we?

Well, of course, we pious believers proclaim. We know. We go to Mass week after week. We know that Our Lord suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, was buried and rose again.

We know.

But do we?

St. John Henry Newman makes a distinction between notional and real assent to a creedal proclamation. A notional assent means that we understand the terms of a statement.

But a real assent is different. In a real assent, we recognize how our whole being or selves are implicated by the assent. If Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, then everything must change.

It certainly did for the disciples on the first Easter Sunday morning. Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb early Sunday morning, but it is empty. Simon Peter and the unnamed beloved disciple run to the tomb. They see the burial clothes rolled up the side as if they are not needed anymore.

But holy Scripture tells us that there was no immediate understanding of what happened. Mary is desolate, perhaps believing that the body of her Lord has been taken away by a thief in the night. Simon Peter and the beloved disciple cannot make sense of what has been revealed.

Over the next 40 days, they would learn what it means that Jesus has risen from the dead. They would come to recognize that because of the merciful love of God, the Father raised up the Son.

Death would not have the last word. Love alone is credible.

This Easter season, we are invited to make a real assent to what happened not just all over Judea but even here and now. Christ is still risen from the dead.

In baptism, we share in that resurrection. Our lives are no longer ordered toward death but the fullness of divine life.

Of course, at least to the senses, it does not seem like everything has changed. The pandemic over the last year has been a heart-wrenching reminder that death’s sting still has a bit of power.

Still, let us look a bit closer. St. Paul tells us today that our lives are hidden with Christ in God (cf. Col. 3:3)


Our lives, seemingly mundane and decidedly precarious, have new meaning because Christ is risen from the dead. Even now, I can see it. I can see it in all those who risked their lives to care for the sick during this pandemic, all those who nourished us with the sacraments of the Church, and all of us who sacrificed so much for the flourishing of our neighbor.

Death’s sting has been defeated because we now live as creatures who know that the denouement of death is at hand. If I unite myself to Our Lord Jesus Christ, even my suffering, even my death can become an occasion in which I know more deeply the love of the Father.

The Good News of Easter is that we, like the disciples, have time now to “know” what happened all over Judea.

And to attune our sight to recognize that the echoes of that empty tomb resonate here and now.

Alleluia, he is truly risen.

April 4 – Easter Sunday, The Resurrection of the Lord
Acts 10:34, 37-43;
Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23;
Col 3:1-4;
Jn 20:1-9


This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.


Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Opening the Word: Witnesses on earth

Thursday, May 13, 2021
By: Timothy P. O'Malley There must have been a wondrous and yet anxious expectation that filled the disciples on that... Read More

Editorial: Dear kids: This is what it means to receive the Eucharist

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
By: Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board Dear First Communicants, Congratulations! What a special time this is. It is the moment you receive Jesus in... Read More

Pope to institute formal ‘ministry of catechist’

Sunday, May 9, 2021
By: Cindy Wooden VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While millions of laypeople around the world are recognized as catechists in their parish or diocese,... Read More

Opening the Word: Remain in my love

Thursday, May 6, 2021
By: Timothy P. O'Malley The declining religiosity of U.S. citizens seems inevitable. Each time Gallup or Pew releases a poll,... Read More

Throughout May, join the worldwide Rosary marathon

Tuesday, May 4, 2021
By: Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board Over the course of the pandemic, certain powerful moments of national and worldwide prayer stand out. A year... Read More

On difficult issues, think critically — and think with the Church

Sunday, May 2, 2021
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion A priest tells this story. He was driving through a rural area on vacation when he noticed an exit sign for one of the... Read More

Opening the Word: The scandal of abiding

Thursday, April 29, 2021
By: Timothy P. O'Malley If you are looking to sell a book on Christian discipleship, you need a radical title. The kind of title that underlines... Read More

Religion is essential

Tuesday, April 27, 2021
By: Kathryn Jean Lopez We are now a little more than a year since church doors shut for the Mass, confessions went on hiatus in many places and... Read More

The inspiring — and surprising — conversion of Justin Bieber

Sunday, April 25, 2021
By: Scott Warden The other day, I was driving along a fairly busy stretch of road with my two youngest daughters in the backseat when I noticed... Read More

Opening the Word: A letter to my son on his first Communion

Thursday, April 22, 2021
By: Timothy P. O'Malley The writer has taken the occasion of his son’s first Communion to speak about the Eucharist considering the readings... Read More