Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 17, 2008
The truth of Easter offers real hope to the world
Archbishop reflects on the message of the resurrection
By ARCHBISHOP RICHARD SMITH
The suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ offer to us a true and an abiding hope: the real hope of eternal life. This is the great good news!
Christ's Easter resurrection is his victory over sin and all of its dreadful consequences, including even death. As St. Paul puts it, "Death has been swallowed up in victory. . . . Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:54-55).
The possibility of our sharing in and experiencing Christ's Easter victory is the essence of the hope that the Church offers to the world. Communion in the Church is participation in the very life of the Risen One, who leads us by the Spirit through life on earth to eternal joy in the next, when God "will wipe away every tear . . . and death shall be no more, neither shall their be mourning nor crying nor pain any more" (Revelation 21:4).
In his recent encyclical Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI teaches that our Easter hope bears also upon our present lives. In virtue of the hope of eternal life that springs from the fact of the death and resurrection of Christ, we can accept and live with the burdens of this earthly pilgrimage.
We know in Christ the goal that awaits us. This goal bestows horizon and meaning to our existence, and thus enables us to bear any burden, however arduous.
St. Paul gives striking testimony to the strength for the present that is given by the hope of eternal life. "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18).
His life on earth was certainly difficult, marked as it was by imprisonment and persecution. Yet his hope in Christ sustained him and gave him strength for the journey.
The events of Easter fill us with overflowing hope and joy once we accept that they are true. This is precisely the experience of the first Christians, as exemplified by St. Luke's account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Not yet aware that the Lord had risen, they are overwhelmed by despair. Once they begin to understand the truth and purpose of the Easter events they are filled with a hope that renews and energizes them: "Did not our hearts burn within us?" (cf. Luke 24:19-21).
This year may we experience anew the truth and hope that flows from Easter as we journey towards eternal life. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).
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