My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
Every journey — the beginning of any human endeavor or project — needs a destination, a point of arrival and completion. If this is true of the events that take place in our lives, then certainly it is true of life itself. We need to know the purpose of our earthly journey; we need to know our destination; we need to know where our final home will be. These basic yearnings of the human spirit cause us to seek answers to these fundamental desires of humankind to know who we are.
Easter is the answer to these penetrating questions. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is His victory over death; His victory is our victory and makes our lives eternal by sharing in His glorious Resurrection. In Him, we find our life’s true destination so beautifully identified in St. John’s Gospel: "I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too" (John 14:2-4). Every day is another step in our journey to God. This is the reason every day is an important day of our lives. Each day we have the opportunity to grow in the Lord, to see in every struggle the ultimate victory of the cross, to endure each heartache with the knowledge that "won over to the heart of the Savior, all might draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation" (Preface of the Sacred Heart).
On the day of the Resurrection, the eyes of the Risen Lord are the very eyes that looked upon the countless numbers who sought to have even a glimpse of Him. The voice is the very same voice that proclaimed the message of His heavenly Father. The feet nailed to the cross are the very feet that had walked many miles to cure the sick, to forgive sin, to raise the dead to life! The hands are the very hands that were raised in benediction, multiplied the loaves and the fish, washed the feet of His disciples and held the bread and wine that He transformed into His very body and blood. This is the Risen Christ: the Jesus of the Last Supper, the Jesus of Calvary, the Christ of the Eucharist. He is alive and in our midst!
Because Jesus did indeed rise from the dead, the faithful do believe in Him, strive to do His will, and seek to identify with Him by faith in His teachings and imitation of His deeds. Thus has it been since that first Easter at the tomb, in the Upper Room, on the road to Emmaus, by the Sea of Tiberius and on that first Pentecost. People continue to this day to walk with Christ as their constant guide and companion on the journey until it reaches its culmination in eternity.
The destination known, the goal proclaimed, humanity now rejoices. "Great joy does not gather the rosebuds while it may; its eyes are fixed on the immortal rose… Great joy has in it the sense of immortality… (G.K. Chesterton, Collected Works, Volume I, Ignatius Press, 1986, p. 94). For in this eternal place we will find the perfect love we sought, the joy we pursued, the peace for which we longed, the justice for which we worked, the mercy for which we prayed and the reconciliation of that which yet remained to be accomplished.
In that place that beckons us to continue our journey dwells "the Rose in which the Word Divine became incarnate…" (Dante Alighieri, Il Paradiso, Canto XXIII). Mary, our Mother, also accompanies us on the journey. As one who followed Christ from the very moment of His conception in her womb until she stood beneath His cross of crucifixion, Mary understands all the struggles and pains of the human condition. With maternal love, she embraces us and brings us to her Son; she becomes for us the Mother of Hope.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is real, it is true, it is the foundation of our faith and the reason for our hope. Christ’s Resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul proclaims this truth: "…if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is useless…" (I Corinthians 15:14).
When we ponder the many problems confronting society today — a world at war; economic crises; spiritual, moral and social apathy; a lack of respect for the dignity of all human life; a new generation of young people living in a world constantly changing without a proper anchor providing guidance and direction; and the list goes on — how, if we acknowledge the reality of the moment, does it not seem incomprehensible that we do not invite God into our lives, not as a visitor, but as Our Lord, the Risen Savior!
I pray that as a community of faith we will support one another in our earthly journey, which one day will bring us together in our eternal home: the place of the empty tomb, for life with Christ is forever!
Wishing you a joyous Easter, I remain,
Devotedly yours in Christ,
+ The Most Reverend
Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Rochester