By Bishop Alberto Rojas
Dear friends, Christ Jesus is not dead! Happy Easter to you and to your families, relatives, and friends. I hope you’re doing well, and that the Lenten practices (prayer, fasting, almsgiving) were very helpful in strengthening your spiritual life and your relationship with God and one another.
This way, we will be better prepared to welcome and celebrate new life in the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus, and as a result, we may be able to obtain the peace and joy we need to always live in His presence.
“Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” These are the words we read in the Gospel of St. Luke (24:5), referring to the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus. The feast of Easter, for us Christians, is a celebration of life, not of death. During Lent we sacrifice ourselves to die to sin and to anything else that takes us away from God in order to experience new life, renewed life in our Easter celebrations.
We learn these things from Jesus himself through his words and actions in the Gospels. Saint Paul also reminds us that we are called to live in the freedom that comes from knowing that we are God’s beloved children, so that we may be able to serve one another through love. (Gal. 5:13)
Every Easter, just like our Jewish sisters and brothers, we remember and celebrate the passing of the Israelites from the slavery in Egypt to the freedom on their pilgrimage toward the Promised Land. But more importantly, we celebrate the passing of Jesus from death to life through his Passion, Death and Resurrection.
Jesus gives a different meaning to our Easter celebrations. We don’t just remember an event from the past, but we also celebrate something more transcendental, something with a foundation on our current reality. The passing from the slavery of sin to the freedom of God’s grace is a constant struggle which we begin from the moment we can make use of reason. But with a firm Faith in the Risen Lord, we are able to make a better discernment about the ways we want to choose to continue our pilgrimage through this life.
On our pilgrimage, we should continue the fight to remain in God’s love, choosing the ways which lead us to living, and avoiding the ones that lead us to dying; the ways that lead us to peace and not to war, seeking forgiveness and reconciliation. We want to use civilized dialogue and hospitality, with a smile and generosity. We want to learn from our past experiences to build a better present, hoping to live in the future with more quality and human dignity, and knowing that Jesus walks with us.
This Easter celebration offers us once again the opportunity to raise ourselves up from the things that bring us death, so that we may be able to remain in the true life offered to us in the Resurrection of Jesus.
Therefore, what ways do we want to choose moving forward? How do we want to respond to the love shown for us on the Cross and proved in the Resurrection? Salvation has been won and made present for us; we accept it and take it, or we reject it and leave it. May the Holy Spirit illumine our minds and hearts that we may be able to make the best decision. Christ Jesus is the Way that leads us to the Truth, the Truth that leads us to Freedom and true Life. Let’s keep praying for one another. Peace and God’s blessings to all.
Bishop Alberto Rojas is the Ordinary Bishop of the Diocese of San Bernardino.