“You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:48)
Anyone visited Jerusalem? The Sea of Galilee?
Two thousand years might seem like a long time. But: the places where the Apostles saw Christ after His resurrection–those places still look a lot like they did 2,000 years ago.
The Romans burnt and destroyed Jerusalem during the two centuries after Christ, but the city got re-built much like it had been. The famous Western Wall of the Temple still stands. The sites in Jerusalem that we read about in the Acts of the Apostles, like Solomon’s portico, lay buried in ruins now. But it is not difficult to imagine them as they were, because the Old City is fundamentally the same city as the Jerusalem of Christ.
In the grand scheme of things, 2,000 years is not a long time. It may very well be that 2,000 years is just the beginning of the beginning of the history of the Church. For all we know, Lord Jesus won’t return in glory for another 100,000 years or more.
We ourselves will long since have vanished from the earth by then, of course. They’ll have gotten up to the iPhone 750 by then.
But my point is: We really ought to think of ourselves as early Christians. Christians who find ourselves relatively close to the time of the New Testament.
Christ coming to the Upper Room on Easter evening. St. Peter standing on the Temple steps, preaching after Pentecost…These things are not really ancient history. Truly ancient events include the discovery of fire and the invention of pizza by the Egyptians. The New Testament, on the other hand, counts very much as news.
People like to gossip about the news, of course. So, if we’re going to gossip, let’s gossip about things like how St. Peter must have felt when, after getting Christ back in the resurrection, he had to say goodbye to the Master again, forty days later, at the Ascension. Or, if we’re going to speculate about other people’s private conversations, let’s speculate about the conversations over supper in St. John’s household, after the Blessed Mother came to live there.
The Easter happenings did not happen so long ago; we are not far away from them. We are plenty close enough to count ourselves as witnesses.