Bishop Alberto Rojas
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“For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” This Bible passage from the Gospel of John 3:16 is one of the most well-known verses for many people, and as we celebrate the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ at Easter, I would like to invite you to think about the gift of eternal life that is offered to us in Jesus’ rising from the dead, and the opportunity to appreciate daily life in general.

Dear friends, I invite you to look at the beginning of this passage, “for God so loved the world…” It is significant that the word “world” is used, instead of “human race” or “humankind.” We can read this as a reminder that God created everything in our reality – the skies, the mountains, the oceans, the deserts, all the plant life, the fish, the animals, and of course, us, who He created in His own image and likeness. The breath of new life and rebirth that comes to us at Easter is something that we share with all of God’s creation. It’s reflected in our Easter imagery, the beautiful and vibrant colorful flowers that represent the plant world, the “bunny” that represents the animal kingdom, the eggs that represent the beginning of life for so many species.

As we celebrate Easter, we experience joy and hope, and we ask ourselves how we can honor this gift of life that we have received in the Resurrection. One way can be by recognizing our place in the integral ecology that our God has lovingly created. We are truly interconnected and, indeed, interdependent on all forms of life. In his encyclical letter Laudato Si, Pope Francis offers this vision of eternity. “Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place and have something to give to those poor men and women who have been liberated once and for all.”

Our Lord Jesus celebrated and blessed the richness of His Father’s creation, telling his disciples, for example, “look at the birds in the sky; they neither sow nor reap nor gather food into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Mt. 6:26), and “…look up and see the fields ripe and ready for the harvest.” (Jn. 4:35). Jesus understood the integral relationship between all forms of life. Do we share that understanding and awareness? Yes, God gives us a special responsibility to “till and keep” his Garden, to lead all of Creation in right praise, glorifying Him. Are we aware that our actions and behaviors have an impact on the entire web of life? Pope Francis awakens us to this reality in Laudato Si and again last year in his follow-up Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum.

“We need to grasp the variety of things in their multiple relationships,” Pope Francis writes. “Along this path of wisdom, it is not a matter of indifference to us that so many species are disappearing, and that the climate crisis endangers the life of so many other beings.”

Dear sisters and brothers, Easter is a time to celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death and what that means for our salvation. Let us remember that this gift of eternal life includes all life. Our joy is muted when we fail to see the full splendor of what God has made, and humbly act to care for it and keep it. So, I invite you in this season of rebirth and growth to consider how you can live out this calling in your consumer habits, energy use, and other ways that impact the planet, especially our poor sisters and brothers.

May you continue to walk in the light of our Risen Lord during this beautiful time of renewal, appreciating your own life and everything else that comes and supports living. Happy Easter!