An Easter message from Bishop Robert J. Cunningham
Dear Friends in Christ,
“Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness” (The Exsultet). This joyous Easter Proclamation sung at the Easter Vigil describes the movement from darkness to light fully revealed in Christ’s death and glorious resurrection from the dead.
Easter is the feast of feasts. Its meaning is so rich it cannot be grasped in one day. For eight days, the Church will linger with the accounts of Jesus’ appearances to His friends. Every year I look forward to Jesus’ encounter with Mary Magdalen and the other holy women, to Peter, John and Thomas, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and the apostles in the upper room. The Gospel accounts of Easter Sunday and the days immediately following it are among the most beautiful passages found in the Gospels.
How empty our life would be without Christ! Following Jesus’ death, Mary Magdalen wept at Jesus tomb. The disciples on the road to Emmaus were forlorn, downcast, and devoid of hope. Thomas was hurt, doubtful, and reluctant to believe. The apostles hid themselves behind locked doors in the upper room fearful for their lives. The disciples had been attracted to Jesus, moved by His words and deeds. They had followed Him hoping He was the long awaited Messiah. What did life hold for them without Him?
Amid this gloom and darkness, we hear the joyous good news. “The Lord is risen. Let us rejoice and be glad!” Jesus’ resurrection changes everything. Fear is dispelled: “Do not be afraid, Jesus has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee” (Mt 28:5). Confusion is replaced by clarity: “I have seen the Lord” (Jn 20:18). Doubt surrenders to belief: “My Lord and my God” (Jn 21:28). Sadness gives way to new hope: “Were not our hearts burning within us as he spoke to us” (Lk 24:32)?
The beautiful feast of Easter assures us that following Christ means new life for us as it did for Him! It is not only Christ’s death that is overcome but ours as well. Jesus’ resurrection gives hope to all of us. St. Paul proclaimed with utter clarity, “For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection” (Rm 6:5). The resurrection of Jesus 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.
Those who encountered Jesus after His resurrection shared their indescribable joy and new hope with others. We must do the same. We are called to be actively engaged in spreading the good news of God’s saving love. All of us should find ways to communicate Jesus and His message wherever we are (Cf. Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 120, 121). Let us go forth with renewed hope and joy to bring Christ to others.
A blessed and joyous Easter to all.
Devotedly yours in Christ, Most Reverend Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop of Syracuse