Bishop Gruss on 'The truth that makes us truly free: Jesus Christ is risen. He is truly risen. Alleluia!'

Happy Easter to you my dear friends in Christ!

I thank the many of you who have been with me each week during the season of Lent for our walk with St. Joseph.

This past year has been challenging for all of us as we have experienced life far from normal. We live in hopeful expectation that we are getting close to being on the other side of this pandemic.

We’ve learned a lot about ourselves

Certainly it will be something we remember for a long, long time. I suspect that we have learned a lot. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves in the midst of crisis, all the challenges we have had to face; we have seen the impact this pandemic has had locally, nationally, and of course globally. We’ve experienced isolation and separation; many have been alone and afraid. Quarantine and masks have been the reality of life for so long. But we have a vaccine to help us get to the other side. We thank the Lord for this gift.

And now we come to this great celebration of Easter – Christ Jesus has been raised from the dead. The tomb is empty. He has risen!

The rock solid foundation of our faith

For more than 2000 years, this truth has been affirmed and re-affirmed as the rock solid foundation of our faith: For people of faith, the empty tomb reveals the triumph of Jesus over sin and death. This is the triumph for all humankind; we have all been offered salvation by the merciful providence of a good and gracious God who sent His Son for just this purpose; Jesus fulfilled his mission on the cross and now is risen from the dead.

I would suspect that the majority of those watching this video accept this and are thankful for what this means for us as believers. But perhaps some are a bit skeptical; some may be struggling to believe. Some are wavering- others ambivalent. 

No matter where you are on this spectrum of faith, I assure you that because of what God has done for us in Christ Jesus, this reality of His love for each and every one of us can never be extinguished. This is the truth that makes us truly free: JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN. HE IS TRULY RISEN. ALLELUIA!

In the Gospel for today, the apostle John saw the burial cloths and believed. Mary Magdalene initially thought his body had been stolen.  But we do know for sure from the Gospel that he is most certainly not in the tomb.  And in a figurative way, we too, like those disciples, stand before the empty tomb today as we celebrate Easter. 

A new springtime

The empty tomb is a bold proclamation of Christ’s victory over sin and death. If we believe, then Easter is proof that Jesus will never abandon us. The empty tomb proclaims that the “love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and bring about new life in our hearts – a new springtime.

The love of God can do this! And he desires to do this for us individually and as a faith community. As a country and as a world!  His love can transform anything and everything for those who believe.

The story of Resurrection is our story. While Peter and the apostles were the first witnesses, the mission to witness Jesus is not for the apostles and us bishops and priests alone. It belongs to us all who profess our faith in Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

Witnesses

We too are the witnesses in our own day. And how much does this world need witnesses to the truth of Jesus Christ! How much do we need ourselves to be ever more credible witnesses to those truths by which we are called to live in our family, parish, community, nation and world.

Our world is suffering in many ways. We are still in a pandemic. Our country is divided and polarized like never before. This polarization has become so intense that many people no longer trust anyone with a differing perspective. We are losing all sense of human dignity. This is becoming another pandemic. And this is why the world needs credible, spirit-filled disciples who give courageous witness to the truth of Easter – that Jesus was raised from the dead and the Easter story has the power to heal us, to heal our nation, to heal our world.

Spirit-filled disciples

The world may seem quite dark right now. But thanks to the resurrection of Jesus Christ we know quite clearly how much God loves us. And no, we weren’t there on that first Easter morning, with Mary Magdalene, Peter and John, peering into the empty tomb and seeing signs of resurrection. But we are here now as beneficiaries of the life and love that emerges from Christ’s death. Let us all be those spirit-filled disciples who give courageous witness to this truth, bringing a hope that comes from the heart of God and is opened for us by Christ resurrection.

We began the season of Lent walking with St. Joseph. As we celebrate Easter, let us implore his powerful help and intercession. His whole life’s mission was to care for Mary and our Redeemer. There was nothing more important to him then. And today, there is nothing more important to him than to provide protection, guidance and support as our spiritual father. His deepest desire is to lead us and our world to Jesus. Let us go to him without delay….so that the Easter message will come alive. 

Friends, be assured of my prayers for each of you as we celebrate this Easter miracle.  God bless you all.