2 April – Easter Message

EASTER MESSAGE 2000
FROM CARDINAL SEÁN BRADY
ARCHBISHOP OF ARMAGH

The belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. To be a Christian is to believe that God raised His Son from the dead. The faith of all Christians stands or falls with the Resurrection. That belief is a solid cornerstone, rock-solid in fact, for it is based on the evidence of witnesses, trustworthy witnesses, witnesses who saw Jesus after his resurrection and were prepared to shed their blood and give their lives rather than deny what they had seen.

Even though Jesus had foretold his suffering and death, the faith of his followers was drastically put to the test. The shock caused by Good Friday was immense. His friends did not believe the women when they said that he was risen. Even when faced with the reality of Jesus appearing to them, his disciples were still doubtful. They thought they were seeing a ghost.

The Resurrection cannot be explained as a product of the expectations of the Apostles. Their faith came from the direct experience of the reality of the Risen Christ. That faith opened the eyes of the Apostles to a new way of understanding life. They saw that the Risen Lord was alive. They realised that he is present in the community of those who believe in him.

The mood of Easter is one of joy, joy founded on the conviction that his death is our ransom from death and his resurrection our rising to life. On Good Friday it may be difficult to create a mood of grief if all around us is fine and prosperous, so on Easter Sunday it can be even more difficult to experience the joy of Easter in the face of surrounding cares and worries. Easter joy is a deep and lasting joy. The joy of Easter is not something superficial. There is always the risk that our Easter joy will be built on loss of memory, that is, forgetting the Passion and death on the cross. Those things are still with us, in the suffering of so many people today.

St. Paul tells the risen Christians that if they have been raised with Christ they must seek the things that are above. To be raised with Christ means, in a strange way, that the risen Christians still live on Calvary. They continue to walk their own way of the cross and stand beneath countless crosses to which other Christs are fixed.

The new life brought by Christ is not simply a cancelling out of his death on the cross. It is instead the discovery of how Jesus lived his life in total dedication to his Father’s will and to the loving service of his brothers and sisters. That is the basis of Easter joy.

Jesus Christ is that morning star
who came back from the dead
to shed his peaceful light on all humankind.
He lives and reigns in glory forever.

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