On Easter, the victory is ours! Print
Bishop Hying's Column
Written by Bishop Donald J. Hying   
Thursday, Apr. 09, 2020 -- 12:00 AM

This Easter will be one like no other with the restrictions on public Masses and gatherings.

We will not be at church on Easter morning, we will not receive Holy Communion, and we will not be visiting friends and relatives.

It will feel strange and incomplete, but Easter will arrive, just the same.

Nothing, not even the power of sin, evil, and death can hold the Lord in the tomb.

Nothing, not even this pandemic, can keep us from knowing the joy, love, and mercy poured into our lives through the resurrection of Christ. Jesus Christ has been raised and has become the Lord of life! The victory is ours!

Striving for eternal union with God

The second reading for Easter Mass is from Paul's letter to the Colossians, chapter three: "If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory."

We see in this reading the goal and endpoint of our spiritual pilgrimage through this earthly life: eternal union with God in Christ and the unveiling of His glory within us.

Our Lenten discipline these past six weeks has been a renewed surrender to the graciousness of the Lord who has cast out from us the effects of sin, fear, anger, selfishness, and death -- all of those habits, attachments, attitudes, memories, and emotions which hold us bound to earth.

Like Jesus, we have faced our temptations in the wilderness of the heart, we have tasted the glory of the Lord in the transfigured experience of Tabor, we have worked on the serious business of conversion and we have known the mercy of God, as offered to the woman at the well, the man born blind and Lazarus.

We always end up at the empty tomb on Easter morning! Alleluia!

The heart of our faith

Easter is the very heart of our faith, for in the triumphal rising of Christ from the dead we see the absolute and final reversal and undoing of everything that is wrong in the world.

Life swallows up death; mercy quenches sin; love overcomes hatred; hope conquers fear; and joy replaces sadness.

Those first followers of the Lord were so changed by their experience of the risen Christ that they spent the rest of their lives giving witness to what they had seen and heard -- the in-breaking of the vast beautiful world of the Kingdom of God!

The possibility of a deep, transforming relationship with the Lord, here and now, through the Church, the Scriptures, the sacraments, prayer, and service becomes the central reality of our life.

In Baptism, we die to our old selves and rise with Christ.

In the Eucharist, we taste the Divine Manna which unites us with the Lord.

In deep and consistent prayer, we discover that Jesus is truly alive and lives within and among us. The old order of things has been cast down -- the worldly path of climbing the ladder of material success, looking out for our own interests, withholding forgiveness and mercy to those who need us, seeking a life of complacency and comfort, putting the things of this world before the reality of God.

None of these attitudes and ways of living make sense anymore to a Christian who has truly experienced the grace and power of the resurrection.

In his Letter to the Romans, Paul reminds us that the fullness of this new, risen life has not yet been fully realized in us.

We groan in spirit as we await the unveiling of the glory of God. We still carry the burden of sin and the curse of death. We still inhabit a world that often seems to be moving further away from the Kingdom of God.

Nothing can destroy us

But yet, none of this has an ultimate hold on us.

If we embrace the abundant life of the Gospel, nothing can defeat or destroy us because our lives are hidden and wrapped in Christ.

Do we dare to believe in this new relationship which saves us? Do we dare to live this adventure which the Lord calls us to? We have discovered the Pearl of Great Price. Will we sell all to retain it?

St. Irenaeus reminds us that "the glory of God is man fully alive" and "God became man, so that man could become God."

God wants to place his divine holiness within us so profoundly, that we become as much like Him as possible, even in this life. This process of divinization is the astonishing and beautiful result of the rising of Christ from the dead.

May you know the joy, love, peace, and power of the risen Lord!

Despite what will feel strange and different, may this Easter be a triumphal experience of God's life-changing power in your heart and soul!

Have a blessed and joyous Easter!