He is Risen! Yes!

04-21-2019Pastor's LetterRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

You meet someone and say, “Christ is risen!” They respond, “Truly, He is risen!” This ancient Christian greeting is still used in countries with a strong, Catholic/Orthodox culture. Our western culture, particularly our American ethos, formed by a strong current of Calvinism that was suspicious of such outward expressions of faith, long ago abandoned such greetings. (Although “Merry Christmas” has hung on for now!) You and I must find new ways to evangelize just as the earliest Apostles, disciples, and martyrs did when they all but ran out into the world for the very first time, taking with them the good news of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If you are visiting with us for Easter, each of us at St. Mary’s gives you a warm welcome and invites you to return. I’d ask each parishioner to reach out and welcome someone this weekend. If they happen to also be a regular parishioner, then you’ve made a new friend! Below are some reflections for us on the Resurrection from Bishop Robert Barron. On behalf of Fr. Raymond, Fr. Hepner, our deacons and staff, have a blessed Easter!

Christ is risen! Truly, He is risen!

Father Wilson

“The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the be-all and the end-all of the Christian faith. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, all bishops, priests, and Christian ministers should go home and get honest jobs, and all the Christian faithful should leave their churches immediately. As Paul himself put it: ‘If Jesus is not raised from the dead, our preaching is in vain and we are the most pitiable of men.’ It’s no good, of course, trying to explain the resurrection away or rationalize it as a myth, a symbol, or an inner subjective experience. None of that does justice to the novelty and sheer strangeness of the Biblical message. It comes down finally to this: if Jesus was not raised from death, Christianity is a fraud and a joke; if he did rise from death, then Christianity is the fullness of God’s revelation, and Jesus must be the absolute center of our lives. There is no third option.

“The path of salvation has been opened to everyone. … Jesus went all the way down, journeying into pain, despair, alienation, even godforsakenness. He went as far as you can go away from the Father. Why? In order to reach all of those who had wandered from God. Then, … even as we run as fast as we can away from the Father, all the way to godforsakenness, we are running into the arms of the Son. The opening up of the divine life allows everyone free access to the divine mercy. And this is why the Lord himself could say, ‘When the Son of Man is lifted up, he will draw all people to himself.’… The resurrection shows that Christ can gather back to the Father everyone whom he has embraced through his suffering love.

“So on Easter Sunday, let us not domesticate the still stunning and disturbing message of resurrection. Rather, let us allow it to unnerve us, change us, set us on fire.” – Bishop Robert Barron