The Profession of Faith
entered the empty tomb and discovered “the linen cloths lying
there,” “he saw and believed.”
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.
The appearances of the Risen One
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.
Thus the women were the first
messengers of Christ’s Resurrection for the apostles themselves.
They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the
Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his broth-
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!”
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.
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.
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
) and frightened. For they had not believed the holywomen returning
20:2, 6, 8.