One of the stories about Francis of Assisi relates how a brother watched the saint in prayer, and heard him pray the words, “Who are you, Lord my God, and who am I?” These two questions are fundamental to the Christian life. The Easter season celebrates the new identity of thousands of newly baptized people around the world. They are just beginning to appreciate “who they are” in the light of the Gospel they have embraced. Thus, our Mass readings for the Easter season put us squarely in the middle of both of those questions: “Who are you, Lord my God, and who am I?”
For example, on Pentecost Sunday the Acts of the Apostles tells us that Peter boldly proclaimed to the crowds of the Jews in Jerusalem the reality of who Jesus of Nazareth is. In that proclamation, Peter himself is transformed: He is now a witness to Christ—and Peter says as much at the end of the passage.
We also read from the First Letter of Peter—possibly an early Baptism homily—which addresses the question, “Who is Jesus?” But in doing so, the author answers the other question as well, when he says that Jesus is now “revealed in the final time for you.” The newly baptized are bearers of Christ to the world.
Each of the resurrection stories is a challenge to the faith of the Church, and our personal faith, in the belief that Jesus is risen. For example, in the Emmaus story, two followers of Jesus come to recognize him in the breaking of the bread. That story, from Luke’s Gospel, captures, the experience of every Christian, down through the ages. It is also the pattern of our Eucharist.
We encounter Christ at Mass as he “opens the Scriptures for us and breaks the bread.” Then, at every Mass, we ourselves are transformed into the Body of Christ. We go out—as Peter and his companions did—to witness to Christ. In the Risen Jesus, we come to know who we are, and what our mission is! Happy Easter!