From Bishop Patrick Neary: We walk each day by Easter’s first light

Bishop Patrick Neary C.S.C.

St. Augustine once wrote, “The resurrection of Christ was God’s supreme and wholly marvelous work.” He doesn’t talk of the creation of the universe or the Incarnation as God’s greatest work, but the resurrection of Christ. Yet it seems that not one of the disciples expected it. They think that his body was stolen. Yet entering the tomb, Simon Peter and John enter the site of the greatest event ever to transpire in history. Curiously, the cloth that covered his face is rolled up in a place by itself. Grave robbers would not have folded anything. He is truly risen!

No one expected the cross, a Roman torture instrument, to become a symbol of hope, of love and of new life. It is one of the worst things that could happen to a human being. Yet in God’s mysterious plan, a wooden torture instrument becomes the tree of life. It happened because Jesus accepted the unacceptable on Good Friday. In the face of his anguish, doubt and fear, he simply prayed, “Father, not my will but thy will be done.” His willingness to accept suffering set humanity free and led to the resurrection.

The constitutions of my religious order, the Congregation of Holy Cross, express it this way: “He has taken us into the mystery and grace of this life that springs from death. If we, like him, accept suffering in our discipleship, we will move without awkwardness among those who suffer. We must be people with hope to bring. There is no failure that the Lord’s love cannot reverse, no humiliation he cannot exchange for blessing, no anger he cannot dissolve, no routine he cannot transfigure. All is swallowed up in victory. He has nothing but gifts to offer. It remains only for us to find how even the cross can be born as a gift.” 

Blessed Basil Moreau, who founded Holy Cross, stated that resurrection is for us a daily event. God’s supreme and wholly marvelous work didn’t just happen on Easter morning, but its power is at work in us every day. If we can see that every cross we bear carries within itself a hidden gift — the seed of new life — then we will also experience the power of the resurrection in our daily lives.

Our weary, war-torn and lonely world so needs the good news of that first Easter morn. When we look at the protracted war of devastation in Ukraine, see the plight of hostages or starving families in Gaza, we can sometimes forget that the resurrected Christ is closest to those
who suffer. 

Even in our state, the cross is present in the social issues confronting us, especially in current proposed legislation regarding physician-assisted suicide, abortion, immigration and the removal of the religious exemption in the Minnesota Equal Rights Amendment. We Minnesota bishops continue to meet annually with legislators at the state Capitol to advocate for legislation that serves human dignity and the common good. All of us must bring the light of Christ’s resurrection to bear on any legislation that has the potential to bring harm to vulnerable people in our society. 

No matter what challenges we face in our world, we know deep down that we are an Easter people. Each day, we must be people with hope to bring. For we walk each day by Easter’s first light and we long for its fullness. 

Yours in Christ, Bishop Patrick M. Neary, C.S.C.

Feature photo courtesy of OSV News.

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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