April 20 is Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of the Lord, and the beginning of the Easter Octave — eight days of Easter.
Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalms 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4, or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; John 20:1-9
On Easter, the Church presents us with St. Peter’s model Christian message — the world’s first Catholic talk. Here’s how to create your own message like Peter’s.
Reference real things your audience has experienced.
“You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee, after the baptism that John preached,” said Peter, “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.”
Great things have happened because of Christ in our own time. We shouldn’t be shy about claiming them. A non-Catholic businessman in Cleveland recently wrote a spirited defense of the Catholic Church. He said:
“The Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students every day, at cost to your Church of 10 billion dollars and a savings on the other hand to the American taxpayer of 18 billion dollars. … [T]he Catholic Church has a nonprofit hospital system of 637 hospitals, which account for hospital treatment of 1 out of every 5 people, not just Catholics, in the United States today. … I’ve been to many of your shelters, and no one asks them if you are a Catholic, a Protestant or a Jew; just ‘Come, be fed; here’s a sweater for you and a place to sleep at night’ at a cost to the Church of 2.3 billion dollars a year.”
Tell them the positive things you have seen Jesus do.
“He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him,” said Peter. “We are witnesses of all that he did.”
We have each had an experience of Jesus, but we aren’t always comfortable sharing it.
Did Jesus restore your hope? Did he expand your capacity to handle more things? Did he heal your relationship with your brother? Did he lift a load off your shoulders through his forgiveness? Did he help your sister through a terrible time in her life? Tell others. You are a witness to these things. Share them! And be armed with the research that shows how faith helps others.
Make them know that the Resurrection is reasonable.
“They put him to death by hanging him on a tree,” said Peter. “This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”
Even skeptics recognize that the Gospels tell a story that doesn’t sound made-up at all: People who make up a religion usually make themselves heroes in the process. The apostles didn’t look heroic in the Gospels. Yet they tell the story of astounding encounters like Paul’s, and the historical record shows that many new Christians died for their belief in what they saw.
There are very good reasons to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Learn them and share them.
Tell them about God’s mercy.
“To him, all the prophets bear witness,” said Peter, “that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”
People instinctively know that we will be held account for how we conduct our lives. We know that our choices have hemmed us in. We know we will be judged. It is a great relief to learn that the Judge of our souls is a lover of mercy, who is just waiting for our “sorry” to give his pardon — and the Divine Mercy message coming the Second Sunday of Easter is the perfect herald of that news.
So this Easter, make your own Easter message. You can start by watching this Catholics Come Home commercial that does all the things mentioned above. Pass it on.
Tom and April Hoopes
write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence
at Benedictine College.