April 11, 2017 // Uncategorized
God has unlocked for us the path to eternity
By Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades
Easter is the Church’s greatest feast. It is the day when we celebrate the crowning truth of our faith, the Resurrection of the Lord. We rejoice that God, through His Son, has conquered death and, as the Collect prayer of Easter Sunday Mass says, has “unlocked for us the path to eternity.” This is indeed good news, great news. It is the source of our hope as Christians.
On Easter Sunday, we hear in the first reading of Mass, from the Acts of the Apostles, the testimony of St. Peter, who preaches to the people: “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.”
On Easter Sunday morning, Mary Magdalen went to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. She saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. She ran to tell Peter and John. They both ran to the tomb and found it empty. The Gospel tells us that John, the beloved disciple, “saw and believed.”
The Resurrection of Jesus was a real historical event. There was an empty tomb, yet there was also more. As St. Peter said: God “granted that he be visible.” Peter testifies that he and the other chosen witnesses ate and drank with Jesus after He rose from the dead. The appearances of the Risen Jesus convinced Mary Magdalen and the other apostles and disciples that Jesus had truly risen from the dead. The Resurrection confirmed for them that all that Jesus had said and done while He was with them was true.
What happened next is key for the Church of all ages, including today. The apostles and disciples who saw the Risen Lord went out to all the world to proclaim the Good News of the Resurrection of Jesus. They went out, as Jesus commanded them, to make disciples of all nations and to baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
If the Resurrection had not happened, there would be no Christianity and no Catholic Church. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”
In our journey of life, we face many challenges and sufferings. In the midst of the greatest trials, including death, we live in hope because of the Resurrection. Following Christ means that we take up our cross each day. Sometimes it can be heavy. But, with His grace, we carry it because Jesus, who is alive, is with us. He holds us firmly in His hands. Because of the Resurrection, we know by faith that the cross of Jesus that we embrace is a triumphant and victorious cross.
I wish all of you, your families, and your loved ones a blessed and happy Easter. As you go to Mass on Easter you will encounter, as we do at every Mass, the crucified and risen Lord. The Holy Eucharist is a great Easter sacrament. Every time we receive Holy Communion, we receive the Body of Christ, risen from the dead. We receive the medicine of immortality. We remember the promise of Jesus: “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
As Catholics, we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus with great solemnity not only on Easter Sunday, but throughout the Octave of Easter, the eight days from Easter Sunday to the following Sunday. I invite you to consider attending Mass, even if only once during the Easter Octave, to savor the joy of the feast of Easter. I will be celebrating Confirmations in parishes throughout the diocese during the Easter Octave and throughout the Easter season. Confirmation, like Baptism and the Eucharist, is an Easter sacrament. Please pray for all our young people who will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to bear witness to the Risen Christ.
May the Risen Lord bless you with joy and peace! May the Blessed Virgin Mary, who stood by the cross in sorrow and was filled with joy at the Resurrection, intercede for us with her love!
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