An Easter Message from Bishop Deeley

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!

Today concludes the holiest days of our liturgical year. Leading up to this most wonderous celebration today of Jesus' resurrection, I am grateful to have joined with so many faithful in our diocese over the course of the week. On Tuesday, we celebrated the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral, and on Wednesday traveled 300 miles to Caribou to bring the oils that were blessed and consecrated to the churches of the north.

Holy Thursday began the Sacred Triduum, the three-day period during which we commemorate together Christ's Passion, death, and resurrection through the Mass of the Lord's Supper, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord. Last night at the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, I baptized nine individuals who were among the 160 across the state of Maine to be welcomed into the Catholic faith this Easter season.

In the Gospel this Easter morning, Mark the evangelist tells us that when the women went out on Easter Sunday morning to Jesus’ burial place it was dark. It was early in the morning but, he says, “the sun had risen”. There would be light in the darkness for the women and for the disciples, and for all Christians through the ages.

We gather in the joy of this Easter celebration.  And we share the story of that first Easter day. It is helpful for us to understand that the resurrection was not necessarily received as quickly as the accounts in the Gospel might suggest.  The followers of Jesus were scattered by his arrest and trial and shattered by his death on the cross.  But they were to find that all was not lost. Eventually the disciples were to encounter the Risen Christ, their light as they gathered themselves in the upper room where they had celebrated the final supper with the One they thought was the Messiah.

Jesus is risen! That was their conclusion. It is a simple but extraordinary and powerful statement of faith. It was difficult even for the disciples and the apostles to come to believe it.  The resurrection of the Lord shattered all their concepts of life.  Death was the greatest human fear, the curse one might wish on the worst of enemies. Death was conquered. “Christ is Risen,” says it all. The disciples could no longer live the same way. Something altogether new had happened. And that made life different.

Why? You well may ask, why does the fact that Jesus rose from the dead make a difference to our lives?  It is because it is not just a fact about the past but about the present. As Christians we confess not just that Jesus rose in the past, but that he is risen, in the present. He is alive, now today. You and I can meet him. We can pray to him. 

The question for all of us today is what difference this will make to our lives. What is the effect of baptism?  What does it signify for us?  With Christ you have died in baptism.  With him you are also risen. Your life is now joined with his. You are part of his Body, the Church. For us, as Christians a new way of life is opened up. We live according to what we believe. We have a new vision of time – it is eternal.

And because of that new horizon we have hope. We look at reality through the lens of resurrection and life.  We live our lives in the world like everyone else. We encounter difficulties and joys, we suffer and are hurt, we encounter challenges, we suffer the loss of loved ones just as do those who do not believe in the resurrection. The difference is that we meet these events with faith and hope, and not despair. We trust that the Risen Jesus is with us, and, in the eternity of the relationship we have with him Christ is always with us giving meaning to our lives which we live in the confidence of an eternal relationship with him.

Joyous Easter!

Bishop at pulpit