Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Throughout the Season of Lent, you and I have spent forty days striving, with the help of God, to deepen our union with His only Son, Jesus Christ. Through our Lenten practices of prayer, penance and works of charity, we have tried to take to heart and express in our lives the words addressed to us on Ash Wednesday, "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel."
Especially in the days of Holy Week, and through our participation in the liturgies of the Paschal Triduum, we have contemplated the One Who "was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins" (Is. 53:5). We have relived sacramentally the dying and rising of Christ.
On this Easter day, we celebrate with great joy the Lord's resurrection from the dead. By His sacrifice on the Cross, Jesus Christ has overcome sin and death and made it possible for each of us to rise along with Him to a new and eternal life. The resurrection of the Son of God opens for each of us who believe the way to the glory of heaven. The resurrection is God's final answer to sin and the definitive proof of how much and how deeply God loves you and me.
Easter, though, is not only a time to look backward, to that moment when Christ rose triumphant from the dead. Easter is also a time to look forward, to ask what difference Christ's rising makes in our lives. At the Easter Vigil and at the Masses on Easter Sunday, we renew our baptismal promises. Will we base our lives on these promises? Will we choose, decide, act and behave as the new creations we have become, having passed through death and having been raised up to new life? Will we bring the presence of the Risen Christ more fully into our daily lives?
I pray that this Easter finds us more faithful witnesses of Christ in the family, the workplace, our communities, and in a special way, in our parishes, where "the Church finds its most immediate and visible expression" (John Paul II, Christifideles Laici). Each of us has been given so many gifts. May we be faithful stewards and bring new life to others!
As always, I keep each of you in my prayers throughout the year. May the Risen Christ bless you with His new life and renewed hope this Easter season and always.