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home : from the bishop : from the bishop February 21, 2019

A Holy Week message from Bishop O'Connell: 'We remember His words'

Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.

It often takes a moment or two for things to sink in. When we find ourselves in situations we did not expect, our minds rarely grasp what has happened right away.

That first Easter Sunday morning at the tomb was just such an occasion. All four Gospel accounts describe the women coming to the tomb but finding it empty. They arrived to mourn and to anoint Jesus’ body, but it was not there. We can be sure a thousand thoughts raced through their confused and frightened minds in an instant as they peered into the burial space to see the funeral cloths lying there but no body. “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they put him (John 20: 2).” They had to be reminded by an angel or two of what Jesus himself had foretold. “And they remembered his words (Luke 24: 8).”

Each year at this time, as spring makes its presence felt in new life all around us, we “remember his words.” In fact, for over two thousand years, the story of Jesus’ death resurrection has been remembered and retold, sung and proclaimed every day in every language by Christian believers everywhere. “He is not here. He has been raised up just as he said (Matthew 28: 6).” And we “remember his words.”

Words are powerful. Once uttered or written or read, some words are never forgotten. It is not simply the author or the speaker who gives words the power to endure, although in Jesus’ case, no greater or more powerful source could be identified. It is, in the end, the power of truth that prevails, a power beyond any attempt on our part to give it expression in words. The truth of Jesus’ rising from the dead – indeed, the power of his resurrection – is far greater and far more convincing than any words that we could speak about it.  And, yet, something within moves us at Easter to “remember his words” and to want to shout from them from the mountaintops: Christ is risen! “Christ, once raised from the dead, shall never die again; death has no more power over him. His death was death to sin, once for all and his life is life for God (Romans 6: 9-10)!” 

Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh, risen from the dead, speaks his word to us once more this Easter: a word of triumph, a word of victory, a word of life. “And we remember.”  The truth and the power of his word shatter the darkness of death and give rise to the bright promise of eternal life. That promise is offered to us. That offer is simply an invitation to believe. And that belief, that Easter faith, changes our lives forever.

“Why do you seek the Living One among the dead? He is not here. He has been raised up just as he said. Remember what he told you (Luke 24: 5-6).”

The stone has been rolled back. The tomb is empty. He has gone ahead of you. “Remember his words.”

To view Bishop O'Connell's Holy Week schedule, click here. 

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