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An Easter Message from Bishop Steven J. Raica
My brothers and sisters in the Lord,
The drama of the resurrection of Christ our Lord is reflected in the astonishing accounts contained in all four Gospels. We are recipients of all that was proclaimed. What happened at that time, continues to happen even today. For that reason we as people of faith proclaim today: Christ is Risen, He is truly Risen!
I can only imagine the confusion and utter dismay of the Apostles and disciples of Jesus. They followed Him – full of hope that here was someone who resonated so greatly with what their hearts were looking for. Then, for them to witness His arrest, condemnation and death on the cross must have seemed as the greatest disillusionment to their hopes. So often the Gospel talks about how they “were looking for him” and how “amazed” and “astonished” they were whenever He spoke or worked a miracle. Now, after His crucifixion, it seemed that it all came crashing down to nothing. All their hopes were dashed!
In the midst of all that seemed lost, our Lord was raised from the dead. And He began to appear to them again, as a gardener (cf. Jn 20:15), as a companion on the journey to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13ff) and as one roasting fish on the seashore (cf. Jn 21:9ff). I think about Mary Magdalen who went to the tomb early in the morning to anoint his body (cf. Mk 16:1) only to find the tomb empty. And she hears again a voice that asks: “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” And to hear her name, “Mary!” from our Lord (cf. Jn 20:15) awakened in her the reality – “He’s alive”! Then, one by one, they began again to recognize, believe and know with certainty the fact that He was alive … like before, but different! At first, they don’t recognize Jesus, and then, once the veil is removed, they experience something new, something different, and, ironically, something very familiar. They knew without a doubt and believed: “He’s alive!”
They remembered that He promised He would remain with them forever --and He does! Jesus is not just some nostalgic memory from the past. He remains now with us! He is alive even today! Many seek Him today! Many lives are changed because of Him, even today! All over the world, He is seen. He is experienced. He is loved and many are moved anew by His love that is at the same time for everyone and for each individual person! In the most serene of circumstances and in the direst of circumstances, He is there! He accompanies us -- each of us -- in the joys and challenges of daily life.
Recognizing Him, we also beg him, as did the travelers on the road to Emmaus, “Stay with us!” (cf. Lk 24:29).
No longer do we doubt! As a faith community gathered around Him, we know with certainty and proclaim: “He is alive!” As a result, I live for Him!
A blessed Easter to you and your families! “Jesus is truly risen, Alleluia!”