“He is risen!” (Matt 28:6)
Everything that matters in Christianity revolves around this central claim.
Many people attribute great moral teaching to Jesus—his push towards non-violence, turning the other cheek and treating others as we would want ourselves to be treated. Jesus, in many respects, is unrivaled in his attitude towards the outcast, the forgotten and those on the margins of society.
But there is an elephant in the room. He never claimed to be a great moral teacher. What did he claim? He claimed to be the only Son of God and that he would rise from the dead. So, did he?
Well, we know something happened because his cowering followers suddenly found a new bravery. Many went to their death fearlessly and willingly, not to take lives, but offering theirs for the sake of the One who rose from the dead.
For them and for us, Jesus’ resurrection is a moment of redemption. It can redeem our lives from being self-focused, trapped in the day-to-day grind and endlessly searching for meaning in things and people. There is so much more to life than this. We are loved. That is who we are.
Last year I led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land during which I had the opportunity to celebrate in the tomb of Jesus. What struck me most of all was that the tomb was empty. We are people of the empty tomb—for Christ is risen. We are not a people who sit in mourning, but rather, we live life in the light of the Resurrection. We each bear the Light of Christ.
This Easter, igniting the Pascal Candle, we will gather together and become a beacon of hope for all to see. Let us continue to pray, reflect and encounter the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus and allow this mystery to draw us deeper into the great love that God has for us. He is risen, yes, he is risen indeed! Alleluia, Alleluia. I pray the blessings of the risen Christ be upon you.
Grace and peace to you this holy season
Most Rev Brian G Mascord DD
Bishop of Wollongong
1 April 2018