REJOICE! Bishop Duca’s Easter message

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CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!


I have always been at a loss for how to greet people at Easter. I suppose the default common greeting is “Happy Easter,” but that has always seemed too weak and even secular (like “Have a nice day!”) for so wondrous a solemnity of our faith. There is a greeting, I believe, that is big enough and it comes from the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox traditions. This Easter greeting is proclaimed like this: as I approach the other person, I say, “CHRIST IS RISEN!” and then the response of the other believer is, “HE IS RISEN INDEED!” Now this greeting on Easter Sunday has substance. This greeting is not a simple desire that the other will have a good time, but rather a PROCLAMATION that flows out of and draws us into the center of the mystery of our faith in Christ risen from the dead for our salvation.  

CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!

 

Parishioners from Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Gramercy, St. Joseph Church in Paulina and St. Michael the Archangel Church in Convent are silhouetted along the levee in St. James Civil Parish. Participants gathered in front of Sacred Heart and walked to the levee and began the three-mile journey to St. Joseph, where it ended. Photo by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator  

 

This proclamation though can be hard to adopt in our lives since religion is considered a private matter in today’s world.  We may even shy away at times from bringing up a religious reason for disagreeing with a point of view in a group conversation, such as abortion and immigration, for example.  What is the religious reason that I am speaking of? It is a reason God has passed on to us, through Jesus Christ, for example, that we are to respect the sacredness of the human person, to welcome the stranger and to clothe the naked.  We believe that God has shown us what is good, right and wrong. Morality is not just a human enterprise, but also an application of the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ command to “Love one another as I have loved you.” We can be considered naïve and behind the times, but we cannot be silent. God is being stripped out of our culture and our social morality. We must speak out, charitably, confidently and joyfully about the truths that find their source in God’s revelation to us in Jesus Christ.  

CHRIST IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED!
Simply saying this Easter proclamation out loud, even to ourselves (out loud with a strong voice is important), will cause us to feel a new energy that may enkindle in us the kind of joy and courage we should have to proclaim the Good News. “Happy Easter” is a good greeting, but a somewhat generic one that can come off the tongue almost without thinking, and is certainly not expecting a substantial response.  We cannot proclaim “Christ is risen,” OUT LOUD, without being pulled into the mystery of our faith, without giving a public witness of our faith, without considering what I truly believe and how it is reflected in my life.  

CHRIST IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED!
To proclaim this Easter proclamation reminds us that we are called to share our faith and not be ashamed.  We are to be the SALT OF THE EARTH! The message we bring is the hope we proclaim in Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life, who was raised from the dead to save us from the darkness of sin and to take away the sting of death. In Jesus we have the true hope that gives our lives an eternal meaning, a hope that not even death can destroy. This same Lord comes to us in the celebration of the Mass as eucharistic food, his true body and blood to strengthen us to become more like Christ each day.  This is the heart of the church, it is our proclamation, our hope and our witness in the way we live our lives.  This is the witness that we need to bring back into the marketplace, our social lives and into the discussions we find ourselves in every day.  To be salt for the earth is to bring God back into our lives, our choices, our morality and into the policies and laws of our city, state and country.  

CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!
The challenges before the church today are calling us to consider whether our Catholic faith is just a generic title that has little influence in our lives or whether our Catholic faith is something that we embrace with a love that influences our whole lives and that we give witness to in the way we live.  Give witness to your faith in your life.  Do not just hope for a Happy Easter, but rather pray for a faith that is willing to proclaim Jesus risen from the dead, OUT LOUD!  

“CHRIST IS RISEN!” And to that I gladly respond, “HE IS RISEN INDEED!”