All that we believe comes from Easter!
St. Paul wrote, “If there is no Resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).
Those are some pretty big “ifs” with some pretty big consequences for us as Christians. Think about them for a moment. Everything we preach in the Church and everything we believe comes down to this: Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! It’s all about Easter!
“For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death has no more power over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; the life he lives, he lives for God. So, you, too, must count yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6: 9-11).
So, between the Risen Lord Jesus Christ and us as believing Christians, between what we preach about and what we believe, is the celebration of our Easter faith. “In fact, everything that exists in the Church – the sacraments, doctrine, institutions – draws its strength from Christ’s Resurrection” (Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, “Life in Christ,” 67).
The Lord Jesus Christ assured us, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though they may die, shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11: 25-26). Is there any greater invitation? Any greater promise? Any greater hope in this world of ours? It is no wonder, then, that our entire faith as Catholics, as Christians, depends on the truth of Easter.
Faith in the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ expresses the conviction so profoundly that there is much more to life than what we see and feel in this world, that as good as this life may be, despite its challenges and difficult moments – despite its crosses – there is a better life to come because of the Resurrection of Christ.
The late, great and Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once reflected, “The Cross had asked the questions; the Resurrection had answered them. The Cross had asked ‘why does God permit evil and sin to nail Justice to a tree?’ The Resurrection answered, ‘that sin, having done its worst, might exhaust itself and thus be overcome by Love that is stronger than either sin or death’” (Fulton J. Sheen, “Lent and Easter Wisdom,” 110).
As Pope Francis has reminded us, Easter enables those with faith to go back to see the Lord Jesus Christ again, to “be overcome by his Love,” to “become witnesses to his Resurrection ... returning to our first love, in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth.”
Happy Easter to the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Trenton!