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The Profession of Faith

167

entered the empty tomb and discovered “the linen cloths lying

there,” “he saw and believed.”

496

This suggests that he realized

from the empty tomb’s condition that the absence of Jesus’ body

could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply

returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus.

497

The appearances of the Risen One

641

Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish

anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste be-

cause the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the

first to encounter the Risen One.

498

Thus the women were the first

messengers of Christ’s Resurrection for the apostles themselves.

499

They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the

Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his broth-

ers,

500

and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of

his testimony that the community exclaims: “The Lord has risen

indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”

501

642

Everything that happened during those Paschal days in-

volves each of the apostles—and Peter in particular—in the building

of the new era begun on Easter morning. As witnesses of the Risen

One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. The faith of

the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete

men known to the Christians and for the most part still living

among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary “witnesses to

his Resurrection,” but they are not the only ones—Paul speaks

clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared

on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles.

502

643

Given all these testimonies, Christ’s Resurrection cannot be inter-

preted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to

acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples’

faithwas drastically put to the test by their master’s Passion and death on the

cross, which he had foretold.

503

The shock provoked by the Passion was so

great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of

the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical

exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized (“looking

sad”

504

) and frightened. For they had not believed the holywomen returning

496

Jn

20:2, 6, 8.

497 Cf.

Jn

11:44; 20:5-7.

498

Mk

16:1;

Lk

24:1;

Jn

19:31, 42.

499 Cf.

Lk

24:9-10;

Mt

28:9-10;

Jn

20:11-18.

500 Cf.

1 Cor

15:5;

Lk

22:31-32.

501

Lk

24:34, 36.

502

1 Cor

15:4-8; cf.

Acts

1:22.

503 Cf.

Lk

22:31-32.

504

Lk

24:17; cf.

Jn

20:19.

999

553

448

659, 881

860