An Easter message from Archbishop Kurtz

19th-century painting by Johann Friedrich Overbeck (CNS photo courtesy Bridgeman Images)

As I share my annual Easter message, I want to acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic that we are experiencing. We face particular challenges as our access to Holy Mass, to the services during Holy Week and even Easter are restricted. During this time, I ask for your prayers for those who are victims of this virus: those who have died and their loved ones, those who are sick, and those who live in fear. This is a time for our Church, despite the challenges of social distance, to be close to one another spiritually. As we do so, I invite you to allow the Lord Jesus, who has told us not to be afraid, to enter into your hearts. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and we rejoice!

I love the Paschal Triduum – the sacred days of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Holy Saturday vigil. I love the sunshine of Easter morning when we announce that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. There is no time filled with greater hope each year.

In the fall of 2018, Pope Francis convened a Synod on youth and young adults.  After deliberating on their needs as well as their vocation to follow Christ in this modern age, Pope Francis issued an apostolic exhortation, which is a document that flows from the topic of the Synod. Its title in Latin is “Christus vivit,” which translated means “Christ lives” or even better, “Christ is alive!”

In “Christ is Alive,” our Holy Father announces three foundational truths that our modern culture urgently needs to hear. In fact, each one of us needs to hear these truths.

The first is simply, “God loves you.” We know that people feel lonely, abandoned and unloved in today’s world. Thus, we announce with full voice the good news that each of you is precious in God’s eyes. God sees you more clearly than you even see yourself. And, even more astounding, God is deeply in love with you.

The second truth flows from the first — the son of God, Jesus Christ, God made man, came to earth and sacrificed Himself on the cross to save us. The willingness to make sacrifices is the clearest sign that someone loves us. Young parents repeatedly getting up in the middle of the night to care for a crying child is a powerful example of great love and sacrifice moved to action. The social distancing Kentuckians are now observing is another example of sacrificial love for the common good.

Christ died to rescue us from sin and loneliness. If we accept his grace, we will experience what it truly means to be saved.

The third truth is that Jesus Christ lives! Jesus Christ is alive. He has conquered sin and the chains of death. He has risen from the dead so that He might lift each of us from sin, selfishness and death to new life.

We know that love transcends emotion or feeling. The ancient philosopher Aristotle spoke of love as being more of an act of will than a feeling. Saint Thomas Aquinas reminded us that we most fully express love when we seek the good of the beloved. Jesus Christ rising from the dead on the first Easter morning willed the good for all of us. He reminded us that He will always be with us and that we should never be filled with fear.

Easter is the perfect time to express our deep gratitude for these great truths at the heart of the Easter proclamation: 

God loves each of us.

Christ died on the cross for our salvation.

Jesus Christ lives and lifts us up this day.

One final act completes our Easter celebration and that is to share the Good News! We remember the first Easter when the women visited the empty tomb and heard from the angel about Jesus rising from the dead. They could not contain their wonderment and joy. They went — in fact, they ran — in order to share that joy and enthusiasm. They knew that Christ risen is our source of rising from sin and death.

Let this day be a chance to extend the gift of Easter joy to a neighbor or even a stranger. The great kerygma or core belief of the Easter alleluia needs to be sung and shared.

In that spirit, I extend to each of you a truly blessed Easter!

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz

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