Bishop’s Easter Message
We are the Easter People: The Lord is Risen!!
…the Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!
…and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:34,35)
Christians are in essence the Easter people. Our faith as a people of God is rooted in the conviction of a Savior who, although he was God, became human. He suffered the realities of the human condition even to the place of death, but what was thought to be humiliation and defeat on the cross was dramatically transformed into victory. We observe Easter as hope, as renewal and victory against despair, and as new life in the face of death.
The evangelist Matthew recalls the “amazement” of the women who went to the tomb to anoint Christ’s body: “A fear mingled with joy that took their hearts by surprise when they saw the great stone before the tomb rolled away and inside a young man in a white robe. The unexpected figure tells them the Lord has gone ahead to Galilee, where it all started. “Go there and you will see him.” (Matthew 28:7)
We will never presume to deny or take lightly the reality of evil that seems to overwhelm us, especially in a heightened age of war and rumors of war. We are facing down gun violence masquerading as freedom of expression in which God’s ‘little angels’ are victims to this senseless unimaginable act, blatant evidence of mass hunger and homelessness in our nation and the world beyond, displaced lives in the global refugee crisis, and the daily threat of violence felt by faithful and hardworking people of all backgrounds and nationalities. Added to this, we think of the seed of discrimination that is sown among the members of God’s family dividing us into contending parties. It is obvious that we are living in a crisis driven world.
With all that’s going on around us, and in the wider world, it is understandable if we find it difficult to feel or see hope and anticipate new life. However, the first Easter story over two thousand years ago became a conquering phenomenon in a time of great distress, persecution and hostile oppression – under the tyranny of Roman domination. With one people burdened under the yoke of imperial domination by another. Out of this came an event of such transformational proportion that suffering was vindicated; death was overcome; new life arose bursting out of the tomb of death and darkness to shine gloriously. Pointing the world to the dawning of a new reality embodied in Jesus’ love.
The simple message, “he is risen; he is not here…” became such a profound rallying cry, that the tyrannical and oppressed alike left their station and gathered around a new and living call as Jesus’ followers. This unified excitement and jubilation is sufficient evidence for us today to replace our well-founded despair with the same joyful spirit echoed in the first Easter. We strive not to be overwhelmed by the many fears and uncertainties but to overcome them equipped with the Easter message, love will overcome. Pope Francis once reminded the world, “to proclaim Christ means demonstrating that believing in him and following him is not only something right and just, but also beautiful. The heart of the gospel is the beauty of God’s salvific love manifested in Jesus Christ crucified and risen”.
This good news is hopeful news for us in this time as it has and will be for all time. The Easter message has not diminished in its resplendent luster to shine the light of God’s conquering love. There is no room for fear or surrender because our Easter faith reminds us that God will “raise us up and renew our lives”. This is also our prayer for our fellow sisters and brothers who have lost their lives in senseless and lawless shootings and bombings. We remember and pray for loved ones who are grieving their loss and a nation mourning the death of our beloved children and young people. And we stand in hope with the Easter message that death isn’t a finality but rather it is resurrection that holds all in God’s everlasting love and eternal presence.
The walk to Emmaus is a story of a change of heart. It is the message of renewing and starting again. Jesus will say to them and to us in the 21st century: “Let us start over from where we began. Let us begin anew. I want you to be with me again, in spite of everything.” “From the rubble of our hearts, God can create a work of art; from the ruined remnants of our humanity, God can prepare a new history.” Shouldn’t this posture be the one that defines us. Isn’t it time for the world to release itself from the conviction that ‘hurting others’ is a greater pursuit than love and forgiveness?
Let us celebrate, “Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! He is risen indeed, our Lord is risen…”, and with him so are we! My beloved, I enjoin you to have renewed hope, for with Christ as our forerunner and Savior our present and future are secured.
A Happy and Joyful Easter! Amen!
Your bishop and beloved friend!