Bishop Vann’s Easter message

With these words from the pages of Sacred Scripture in front of us, we once more celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord! Although we use the English word “Easter,” this is an Anglo Saxon word which refers to Spring! A much more accurate way of referring to this great truth of our Faith – which we profess our belief in each Sunday in the Creed– we can turn to the word “Pasqua” or “Pascua,” which is found in what were historically Catholic countries. The word clearly reflects the “Paschal Mystery” which is the reality of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, which we celebrate at this time of the year. 

It is worthwhile remembering as well that the season of the Resurrection of the Lord is an entire season of 50 days leading up to Pentecost (the birthday of the Church), not just one day. The genius of the Church’s Liturgical Calendar is that we are given actual days and seasons to live and celebrate each day the truth, beauty and mystery of our Faith. 

In this questioning age in which we live, it is vital to go back to St. Paul – a witness to the Risen Lord – when he says that, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14) Sadly, the power of the message of the Risen Lord has been diluted at times in our age by an overuse or misuse of what I could call “the historical critical method” in Biblical studies. That is why it is vital to return to St. Paul in this season. I would also turn today to the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his series “Jesus of Nazareth.” In his reflections on the Resurrection in this work he says on pages 276 and 278: 

“It is part of the mystery of God that he acts so gently, that he gradually builds up his history within the great history of mankind; that he becomes man and so can be overlooked by contemporaries and by the decisive forces within history; that he suffers and dies and that, having risen again, he chooses to come to mankind and only through the faith of the disciples to whom he reveals himself; that he continues to knock gently at the doors of our hearts and slowly opens our eyes if we open our doors to him. 

And yet –is not this the truly divine way? Not to overwhelm with external power, but to give freedom, to offer and elicit love. And if we really think about it, is it not what seems so small that is truly great? Does not a ray of light issue from Jesus, growing brighter across the centuries, that could not come from any mere man and through which the light of God truly shines in the world? Could the apostolic preaching have found faith and built up a worldwide community unless the power of truth had been at work within it? 

If we attend to the witnesses with listening hearts and open ourselves to the signs by which the Lord again and again authenticates both them and himself, then we know that he is truly risen. He is alive. Let us entrust ourselves to him, knowing that we are on the right path. With Thomas let us place our hands into Jesus’ pierced side and confess: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). 

A very blessed season of the Resurrection of the Lord to all, and thank you especially for all who have assisted in the many events and celebrations of Faith. A special welcome and blessing to all who have been baptized and received into the Church in this holy season. He is Risen as He said! ALLELUIA!

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