Dear Friends in Christ,

“And behold Jesus met them on their way and greeted them” (Mt 28:9). As Mary Magdalen, “fearful but overjoyed,” ran to tell the disciples that Jesus’ tomb was empty, the Lord met her along the way. This is the remarkable and hope-filled good news of Easter. The Lord is risen. Alleluia!

The Gospel provides us with numerous accounts of Jesus’ encounter with others after His resurrection. He meets Mary; the disciples on the road to Emmaus; Peter, Thomas and the apostles gathered in the upper room.

His message to Mary is one of compassion and assurance that there is no need for fear. To the apostles in the upper room he offers, “Peace” and to Thomas the encouragement to “Believe.” The disciples on the road to Emmaus have their eyes opened and hope restored when they recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

Over the course of these encounters with the risen Lord, faith is nurtured and strengthened. Slowly, those who meet Jesus after His resurrection grasp the full meaning of Jesus’ words and deeds. His suffering and death were not an end but a passage to new and eternal life.

These post-resurrection encounters with the risen Lord were not just a happy ending for those who had followed Jesus during His earthly life. Encounters with the risen Lord are not reserved for those to whom Jesus appeared immediately after His resurrection. Jesus comes to meet us, too. We encounter Him in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist; in His sacred Word; in the community when two or three are gathered in His name; and in our brothers and sisters.

In this Year of Mercy, we are encouraged to reflect on the many ways in which the Lord comes to meet us with His everlasting mercy. Nowhere is His mercy more evident than in the Solemnity of Easter that celebrates the gift of new life, joy and hope that is offered to us. “Let the Risen Jesus enter your life; welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! . . . If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid; trust him, be confident that he is close to you. He is with you, and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do” (Pope Francis, Homily, 30, 2013).

In our diocese we speak about “mercy encountered should become mercy extended.” Just as Jesus’ followers were told to announce the good news that He had risen, so too we are called to “go forth” to share our faith in a merciful God. Let us remember that this proclamation must always include the tangible witness of our lives. In the words of Pope Francis, “Those who listen to us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips” (Homily, April 14, 2013).

The Lord comes to meet us! He is always coming toward us, desiring to embrace us with His mercy. May we open our hearts to Him. As recipients of His mercy let us proclaim the good news of Easter: “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.”

A blessed and joyous Easter to all. Be assured of my prayers as we continue the journey of life and faith with renewed joy and hope in the promise of new and eternal life.

Devotedly yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop of Syracuse

Easter Mass air times

Students from Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School and Cathedral Academy at Pompei joined Bishop Robert J. Cunningham at Our Lady of Pompei-
St. Peter’s Church for the taping for the Easter televised Mass.

The Mass will air throughout the diocese during Easter weekend:

Syracuse area:

Time Warner Cable Channel 98

• March 26: 9 a.m.–11 a.m.;
    12 p.m.–1 p.m.

• March 27: 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.;
    8 p.m. – 9 p.m.

WSYR Channel 9

• March 27: 6 a.m. – 7 a.m.

Binghamton area:

• WBNG Channel 12

March 27: 6 a.m. – 7 a.m.

Utica area:

• WKTV Channel 2

March 27: 6 a.m. – 7 a.m.

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