Bishop Ray’s Easter Message

This Easter I reflect on some key statements from the Passion and Resurrection accounts in the Gospels. Through them Jesus Christ speaks to us all.

In St Matthews gospel the Roman soldiers were present for the hours leading up to death of Jesus on the Cross. The Gospel tells us: “The centurion together with the others guarding Jesus said, ‘In truth this was a son of God’.”   Mt 27:54   That is the very heart of Christian faith. It is something incredible, a total mystery. Jesus was not just a good and inspiring person, He was God come among us. It is the heart of our faith. His presence in the world and in our lives continues through the Holy Spirit. This Easter morning we celebrate his rising from the dead. Christ is Risen, Alleluia!

Some disciples thought it was all over with the death of Jesus, and that their hopes for Jesus were in vain. Then they met a stranger on the road to Emmaus, and that meeting revealed to them that Jesus was Risen from the dead. They returned at once to their friends and told them their story, only to get the response, “Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”  Lk 24:34 This Easter morning many Christians everywhere hear in their hearts, ‘Yes, it is true, Christ is Risen’. He is Risen and with us always.

The Gospel continues, They were still talking about all this (Emmaus) when He himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’” Lk 24:36  Jesus himself stood among them. He stands among us, he is with us always: ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name …’.

A number of times the Risen Lord greeted his disciples, ‘Peace be with you’, – Peace is Christ’s gift, peace in our hearts and souls; at peace with our weakness and sinfulness, at peace with ourselves, with those around us, with the whole world. Today we pray for peace where there is war, we pray especially for the Ukraine. We pray for peace in the hearts of Ukrainians in foreign lands, concerned for their loved ones in grave danger back home.

How did the disciples react to Jesus suddenly standing among them? “Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded:” Lk 24:41  This Easter are we dumbfounded, have we that same joy? – the Almighty, God is with us. In the words of St Paul, ‘we can do all things in Christ who strengthens us’. Take time, quiet time, to experience the mystery and the joy of Easter, – Christ is Risen, alleluia!

For a moment look back to the Last Supper, – in the words of the Gospel, “Then Jesus took some bread … This is my body which will be given up for you; do this in memory of me.”  Lk 22:19   Christ’s gift to all Christians and to the world, – the gift of ‘The Bread of Life’, – the bread of life that strengthens and sustains us along life’s journey. The bread that gets its power from the death of Jesus on the cross’. What assurance of his love for us, ‘he gave his life for us’!

Those six words of Jesus, ‘Do this in memory of me’. It is appropriate to recall them today. They are an invitation to us all, – Covid is under sufficient control, with care and caution gather again each Sunday, gather on the Lord’s Day to offer Holy Mass. It is Jesus himself who issues the invitation to us, ‘do this in memory of me’. What an honour it is to be invited! With joy all of us return to Sunday Mass.

A beautiful event linked to the Mass and the Last Supper is the account in St John’s gospel of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, “If I then your Lord and Master have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet.” Jn 13:14 Look out for each other, look after each other, help one another; be there for your family, be there for all around you in their hour of need. As we celebrate God’s love on Calvary let us take to heart his call, ‘to wash each other’s feet’.

A final sentence and it is from the Gospel of Mark. Words spoken by the Risen Lord before he was taken up to heaven before the Ascension.  “And he said to them, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.’ ” Mk 16:16   Pope Francis constantly reminds us that by baptism all of us are called to be missionary disciples. The Good News is not our great secret, it is joy to be shared. ‘The whole world’ begins in our own homes, – with children, grandchildren, family members, and it extends to friends and neighbours. How can I be a missionary disciple this Easter? Talk about your faith, celebrate your faith in church, and show your faith by the way you live faith and hope, and love of neighbour.

Rejoice this Easter morning! Christ is Risen form the dead, Alleluia! Pray prayers of praise and thanksgiving these Easter days. Amid any worries and cares you have, put your hope and trust in the Risen Lord. I pray an Easter blessing on you and your home, and on all your loved ones, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  AMEN.

+ Ray Browne

Diocese of Kerry

17 April 2022