A message for Easter


This Sunday, we celebrate Easter, the holiest day of the year when we announce with great joy:  He who suffered painfully and innocently for our salvation is not dead but alive. ALLELUIA!  And as followers of Jesus Christ, we rise with him from sin and death to a new life begun in our Baptism that will never end.

Three women bring ointment to Christ's tomb and discover it open in this artwork attributed to illuminator Cristoforo de Predis. Easter, the feast of the Resurrection, is April 8 in the Latin-rite church this year. (CNS photo/courtesy of Alinari, Art Resource)

In 2005, Blessed John Paul II gave what would be his final Easter message.  The theme of his message — Mane, Nobiscum, Domine — is a familiar one. Derived from the Gospel of St. Luke, it translates: “Stay with us, Lord.”

You remember the scene.  Jesus died on the cross and two of his disciples traveled from Jerusalem and suddenly he appeared to them. The Gospel writer recounts that these pilgrims did not at first know Jesus. Seated around the table, they recognized him in the breaking of the bread and then suddenly he vanished.  Who does not recall their famous words when they finally recognized the presence of the Risen Christ and said: “Were not our hearts burning as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?” This Easter we recall these words and ask with the disciples and with John Paul II of blessed memory, Mane nobiscum, Domine!  Remain with us, Lord!

Easter bids us return 2,000 years to that experience of the early church… Christ has risen… The tomb was found empty, and he rose as he said he would. Sometimes
an event or person can change our lives. 
In Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict says
“Being Christian is … the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

Easter is that encounter with the person of Jesus Christ who still lives. We who feared that death and meaningless change are all that life is about now know in faith that we have a new horizon. Like the
horizon of the ocean on a clear blue day, it stretches before us.  We also have a decisive direction. Jesus is the path we follow in
his teaching but even more in his power.

The best way that we can celebrate this horizon and direction that Easter opens to us is to participate in Mass joined as one family in Christ’s death and resurrection.  In fact each Sunday is a “little Easter,” an invitation to rise with Christ Jesus.

Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we come to know Jesus and interpret our lives, joys, and sorrows in his life, death, and resurrection.  We touch the reality of a love that is self-giving and sacrificial.  At the Holy Eucharist, we come to know the Word made flesh… as the bread and the wine once again become his body given for us and his blood poured out for us. In Jesus Christ we find our true friend whose love for us transforms us!

Easter presents a new horizon and decisive direction that must be shared. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we too are sent forth.  In his apostolic exhortation, Porta Fidei (Door of Faith) issued last October in preparation for the Year of Faith that begins October of 2012, Pope Benedict calls us to be sent forth once again: “Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy.”

Our Easter faith is a contagious faith.  We experience the person of the Risen Christ who lifts us up and who sends us forth.  We pray, Mane nobiscum, Domine; let our hearts continue to burn in love for you and in gratitude to you. I wish all of you a blessed Easter!

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