An Easter Message-2018
Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!
(Christ has risen! Truly has risen!)
Dearly beloved in Christ:
Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! (Christ has risen! Truly has risen!)
Mark 16:5-7 (NIV)
5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”
I have always wondered what “God’s time” means as we journey through life. As I sit writing this Easter Greeting to you, the beloved of Christ, I can’t help but to think back to years gone by. It feels like just the other day I was laughing and playing with my first dog, Snoopy, in my house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My Mom and Dad were alive and well and my two brothers were doing their thing. Such fond memories! As this year passes, I come to the realization that I turn 60 this year. I am reminded of my studies in Psychology when the developmental theorists talk about mid-life and how our thoughts turn to what they call, “time from birth to time of our death.” I am looking at my own mortality right in the eye! What will happen after I die? Who is God? Will I be able to see God and Jesus face to face? Where will I go? Will I be happy? Will I know those who have gone before me, including all my beloved pets?
I am sure if you sit and think about your childhood, you may remember some good and some not so good times. You will recall your struggle for significance, the choices you made and those you wish you have made. Nonetheless, the way we were and the things we did shape us into who we are today. This shaping allowed us to, in our own way, change the face of the earth and life as we know it. Every day we live, we change the world by our actions and deeds. Never think for one moment that the days of our lives are simply haphazard, or a non-sequitur. Every emotion we have and act we do, affects the people we meet and interact with on a daily basis. If we make someone’s day happy, that person will make another person’s day happy. If we make someone’s day miserable, be assured that that person will, in turn, make another person’s day miserable and, in turn, that person’s behavior will affect another’s, and so forth. The choices and decisions we make in our own life affect the entire world…believe it or not!
This is what happened over 3000 years ago when a baby, Jesus, walked the earth, destined to change the world. Here was born, in an insignificant place in a town called, Bethlehem. His mother was a young woman interested in those things young women at that time were interested in, not unlike the young women of today. His foster Father was a hard working entrepreneurial carpenter trying to make a buck to feed his family and keep above water. They met each other, fell in love, became betrothed and eventually married. The world turned the same way it does today. Taxes were collected. The government stuck its nose in everyone’s business. There was charity as well as dissention. The rich got richer, and the poor got poorer. People lived, made their mark, and died.
However, there was one thing that totally changed life as we live it today. That thing was that God Himself entered this miniscule world in the person of Jesus. God saw that this word was in trouble. Instead of getting closer to Him, we became more distant. The existence of God was being questioned or ignored. The politicians of the day saw the people as servants to them instead of them being servants to the people. People chose an old god, wealth, and, doing what they want to do. Not much has changed since then, has it?
In an attempt to get this world right again, God sent his only Son, Jesus into the world to interact with the world’s inhabitants in a way people can understand God, and His message to repent, turn away from sin and believe the Good News. During His time on earth, in an attempt to pass on His Father’s message, Jesus chose 12 individuals of simple means to go forth amongst the nations and preach the Good News of Salvation that God is real, and, with us today and every day, to bring us into His world which we understand to be Heaven. As we know, bringing order into chaos is not an easy task. However, relentless in His efforts, Jesus tried over and over and over again. He taught in the Temple, healed the sick and raised the dead. He attempted to make the world a better place, and yet, the world crucified Him.
Even with physical death, God raised Jesus giving Him a renewed life. God never abandoned Jesus. Jesus never abandoned humanity. In the beginning, God so loved the world that he sent His only begotten Son into it to renew it. In His death, Jesus so loved humanity that he sent and gave into the world his Spirit in an attempt to renew it.
“Don’t be alarmed,” the young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side of the tomb said to those who came to see what has happened. “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen!” “ He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.”
God gave us hope, and in Jesus put order back in chaos. We are part of that order, but, only if we believe in the message of Jesus and live that message. Living the message of Jesus is “simply-complex.” The simplicity comes into play when we are asked to read the Good News, teach the Good News. Believe the Good News, and most of all, practice what we teach. The last part is the complex part. To practice what we teach is to be and do as Jesus did. He prayed every time he did something and asked his Father in Heaven for permission. He acted on that permission and, through divine instruction given Him by His Father, loved all of humanity, yet holding us all responsible, and accountable for our actions, with the message that even if we do the right thing, it may cost us our life. But, that is what it costs to love our fellow person, and to love God, as God loves you and me! Does this, “responsibility for our actions”make us different from Jesus? If so. what would be different when we cross over from this life into our paradise? By loving one another and living the Good News, when we die, and our tombs are visited by those who know and do know us, there will be a young person waiting for our visitors asking them, “why do you seek this person, the one you seek is risen as promised and has gone ahead of you into the new Galilee, the New Jerusalem.”
Are you ready to love your fellow man? Are your ready to die with Jesus only to be raised with Him? And, are you ready to rise up and journey with Jesus to the new Jerusalem and sit with Him at the right hand of the Father into a world without end? Happy Easter!
Sincerely yours in Christ!
Archbishop Tony Scuderi, DD, PsyD, DMin., LAADC, CCS, CCJP, CCODP, CDMS
Metropolitan Archbishop for Sacramento
The Ecumenical Catholic Church