The Joy of the Resurrection
Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In his First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul responds to the Paschal Mystery with these words: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” He continues with what could be seen as a taunt: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (I Cor. 15: 54-55) In our Lord’s Resurrection, we see that death does not have the final word. But this victory is more than something we celebrate “one-on one” with Jesus.
In the gospel proclaimed at the Easter Vigil, we hear of Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. The angel tells the women to return to the disciples and tell them that Jesus has risen. As they run to announce the news of the Resurrection, St. Matthew reports “Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet and did him homage.” Then, Jesus says to them “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (MT 28:9-10) After His Resurrection, Jesus returns to the community he had formed during his public ministry and remained with his disciples until His Ascension.
In the early Church, community was a recurring theme. In the Acts of the Apostle, the life of the early Christians was captured in these words: “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayer.” (Acts 2:42)
As we grow in our lives as disciples, we encounter the risen Lord in our prayer. We seek Him in Word and Sacrament, but we cannot live our vocations in isolation. For the Christian disciple, one’s faith life is never an experience of just “Jesus and me.” As Christians, we need to be in communion with God and others. We call each other brother and sister because, in baptism, we enter into the life of Jesus Christ. Our relationship with other Christians is rooted in something far deeper than the bonds of friendship or even blood.
Shortly after my installation as Bishop of Spokane, an older archbishop said to me: “Remember, now, you are the shepherd of ALL the souls of Eastern Washington”-a responsibility that I take very seriously. Please know that you too share in the ministry of saving souls. In this Easter season, I encourage every Catholic to find ways to strengthen the local faith community we simply call “our parish”. Unless you live in a small town, it is nearly impossible to know everyone, but make the effort to spend time with those who share your belief in Jesus Christ. Get involved in your parish, spend time with them after Mass, and invite friends from your Catholic school or faith formation programs for dinner. There are shut-ins and seniors who may need a ride to Mass or a visit to remind them that we care. Inspired by the renewed hope and joy of this season, we all must give witness each day to the glory of the Risen Christ.