Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).
These words of Saint Paul are proclaimed in the Epistle at the Easter Vigil, the Mass during which the “elect” (catechumens) receive the sacrament of Baptism. They remind us that the Resurrection of Jesus is not just a past event. In the sacrament of Baptism, the resurrection is actualized in our lives as we are reborn of water and the Spirit. This new life is strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation and nourished by the Holy Eucharist. We rejoice with all the people of our diocese and throughout the world who receive the sacraments of initiation this Easter.
Most of us received the sacrament of Baptism as infants. Every year, however, at Easter, we are called to make the gift of Baptism our own, to enter more and more radically into the truth of our Baptism. We renew our baptismal promises. We re-affirm our Christian identity as members of Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit. In renewing our baptismal promises, we renew our commitment to follow Christ, to build our lives on him and for him, and to live his Gospel.
At Easter, we celebrate that something truly new has happened in human history, an event that has changed the state of humanity and the world. Jesus is risen from the dead! And so, we can put our trust in his teachings. Even more, we can put our trust in Jesus himself, in his person. He is not a distant figure from the past. He is present today. He is alive. He is always with us, with his light and his love. The great explosion of light that is the Resurrection reveals the definitive victory of love, joy, and life over evil, suffering, and death.
“The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross’ (CCC 638).
In this Year of Faith, we have been invited to rediscover and study the fundamental content of the faith as contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. #638 to #658 of the Catechism treat the Resurrection of Jesus as an historical and transcendent event and a work of the Holy Trinity. It explains the meaning and saving significance of the Resurrection. I recommend this section for your reading during the season of Easter. Or, if you want to delve even more into the theology of the Resurrection, I recommend the rich reflections of our Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, in chapter 9 of Jesus of Nazareth – Part Two.
Of course, the Year of Faith is not only about study of the content of our faith, but also living and practicing that faith each day. Believing in the Resurrection of Jesus, we cannot keep the joy of our faith to ourselves. We must pass it on to others. This is the task of evangelization. It was their encounter with the Risen Lord, and the reception of the Holy Spirit, that inspired the first disciples to go forth on mission to bring Christ to others. This is the perennial mission of the Church. It is our mission today. Each of us has a contribution to make to the new evangelization by witnessing to the Gospel with joy.
May the Risen Christ be with you! Happy Easter!
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