Dear Friends in Christ,
Today, as I write my Easter message, it is cold and gray. The trees are bare and there is no sign of swelling buds ready to burst forth. The temperatures are still well below average and the streets and roads show the signs of a hard winter with deep potholes and bumpy surfaces. We long for warmer temperatures, green grass, budding trees, daffodils and crocuses. I am sure you have noticed that the signs of nature’s spring are coming slowly.
Our liturgical season, however, celebrates the spring of new life won for us by Christ’s suffering and death. The tomb is empty! The Lord is truly risen. Alleluia! Easter is a glorious celebration. It is the day of the Resurrection of Christ who conquered sin and death and rose from the dead. Let us celebrate the Resurrection with joy and hope.
The Gospel readings for Easter Sunday and the days immediately following it recount the appearances of Jesus after His Resurrection. He encounters Mary Magdalene in the garden, Peter on the sea shore, two unnamed disciples on the road between Jerusalem and Emmaus and Thomas and the apostles in the upper room where they were hiding.
When Jesus appears He is met with a variety of reactions: fear, disbelief, sadness, disappointment and confusion. Eventually, however, these sentiments are replaced. The grief of Good Friday and the loneliness of Holy Saturday give way to peace and joy. Jesus is alive and in their midst.
We all have our moments of sadness, disappointment, confusion and fear. Personal worries, violence on our streets, the wanton disrespect for the human person, conflicts among nations, acts of terrorism, natural disasters and strife within our own families may cause us to lose heart and become discouraged. In the midst of all of this, we remember that Jesus rose from the dead.
The Resurrection enables us to see the beauty of all life in the light of eternity. Already we carry the seeds of eternal life within us. One day we will enjoy it fully. The Solemnity of Easter celebrates new life, renewed hope and profound joy. Let us be glad and rejoice.
Someone who has received good news or a special gift must absolutely recount it to someone else in order to share the great joy that he or she feels. Those who encountered the risen Lord — Mary Magdalene, Peter, the disciples on the road to Emmaus — felt the flame of faith burn within them. They shared the good news that the tomb was empty and Jesus had risen from the dead.
In a similar way we are called to recount the good news of our Easter faith. Pope Francis reminds us, “It is the risen Christ who tells us, with a power that fills us with confidence and unshakeable hope: ‘Behold, I make all things new’” (The Joy of the Gospel, 288).
Faith — a gift received and a treasure to be shared. May gratitude for the gift of faith fill our hearts this Easter season. May we share the priceless treasure of our faith — new life, joy and hope — with others.
A blessed and joyous Easter to all.
Devotedly yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop of Syracuse