An Easter message from Bishop Robert J. Cunningham

My place in the sun

Dear Friends in Christ,

Happy Easter! Today we rejoice! “Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous: the Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal” (Easter Sequence).

   I think the Gospel accounts for Easter Sunday and the days immediately following it are among the most beautiful and consoling passages found in the Gospels. After the darkness of Good Friday and the sadness of Holy Saturday, we hear the Easter message: “Yes, Christ my hope has arisen” (Easter Sequence).

   Jesus’ resurrection changed everything. Fear is dispelled: “Do not be afraid. Jesus has been raised from the dead” (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 newfound hope: “Were not our hearts burning within us as he spoke to us” (Lk 24:32).

   Easter is the feast of feasts! It assures us that following Christ means new life for us as it did for Him. It is not only Christ’s death that was overcome but ours also. Jesus’ resurrection gives hope to all of us. “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).

   As we remember the encounters of the risen Lord with His disciples we recall the words of Pope Francis: “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since ‘no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord’” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 3). As we celebrate Easter and the joyful season of 50 days that follows it, may we renew our personal encounter with the Lord when He comes to meet us in His sacred word, in the sacraments — especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation — and in our brothers and sisters.

   “The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life” (Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 2). The disciples of Jesus were people of hope. They lived differently because they encountered Jesus after His resurrection and 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.

   Pope Francis reminds us, “Every   Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus. We no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries’ but rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples’” (The Joy of the Gospel, 120). Let us go forth with renewed hope and joy to bring Christ to others. Christ our hope has arisen!

   A blessed and joyous Easter to all.

Devotedly yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop of Syracuse

Family Bible study: Easter Sunday

   During this Year of the Family, the diocesan Office of Faith Formation has helped you and your family journey through the Lenten season with an approachable, practical Bible study series.The series concludes this week with Easter.

Gospel focus

Mary Magdalene came to the tomb. (John 20:1-9)

For reflection

• What sacrifices do you make for those whom you love?

• Even the disciples had a hard time understanding Jesus’ resurrection — it is that surprising. What does resurrection mean to you? What does Easter mean to you?

• In what ways has God called you to die in Christ? How is this expressed in your own life?

Suggestions for action

• Pray: He is risen — Alleluia! Love is alive. Thank you, God for the gifts of life, forgiveness, and love.

• Celebrate “new life” by giving baby clothes or items to your local Birthright organization.

• Feast on the fruits of your  Lenten practice. Delight with your family in the breaking of your fast by eating Easter dinner together.