Christ is risen, Christ is our joy

Archbishop Michael Byrnes’ Easter Message 2019

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The Resurrection is depicted in a modern painting by Stephen B. Whatley, an expressionist artist based in London. The title is “The Glory of Christ.” Today is Easter, the feast of the Resurrection. (CNS photo/Stephen B Whatley)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Happy Easter!

In every darkness, there comes a light. After the hardest of rains, the sun inevitably shines.

Today, we are bathed in the Light of the World and we rejoice, for the Son of God has risen, and has saved us from our sins!

So many of us have devoted a significant amount of time during the past 40 days of Lent reflecting on the Paschal Mystery: the Mystery that motivates all we do as Catholic Christians. 

In His Passion, Death and Resurrection, Jesus accomplishes His divine mission to conquer the powers of Sin and Death, so that we might find the freedom and power to conform every aspect of our lives to His own sacrificial love. For we know that our ultimate happiness is found in such charity and love.

In his annual Easter message and blessing known as urbi et orbi (the city and the world), Pope Francis last year said, “We Christians believe and know that Christ’s resurrection is the true hope of the world, the hope that does not disappoint.”

“It is the power of the grain of wheat, the power of that love which humbles itself and gives itself to the very end, and thus truly renews the world,” the Holy Father continued.

“It bears fruits of hope and dignity where there are deprivation and exclusion, hunger and unemployment, where there are migrants and refugees (so often rejected by today’s culture of waste), and victims of the drug trade, human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery,” the pope said.

Part of Pope Francis’ 2018 blessing was a plea that the risen Christ would bring fruits of new life to children throughout the world, “who as a result of wars and hunger, grow up without hope, lacking education and health care; and to those elderly persons who are cast off by a selfish culture that ostracizes those who are not ‘productive’.”

The pope’s prayer of a year ago is very relevant today, certainly here at home where we must honestly admit that the Church and our community has failed numerous times in our duty to protect our children.

Our children have been devastated and forever scarred by the sins of clergy abuse in the past. Our children in the community in general continue to be regularly preyed upon and raped by perpetrators in our streets and homes. Our laws and attitudes have caused thousands of babies in the womb to be stripped of their future through the horror of abortion.

We pray that their mothers and fathers repent of the grave wrong that they have committed through abortion and that others in their situation will be moved to protect the precious gift of life that God has created in each child in the womb. We pray that lawmakers and our Governor have the wisdom to understand that women’s rights and true freedom of individuals extend to the smallest among us, the unborn in the womb whose heartbeats tell of God’s miracle of life.

We pray that our government leaders focus on laws and policies that will protect our young rather than endanger them; and that education and law enforcement officials be given greater resources to combat the scourge of violence against our youths, women and families.

We pray for grace as the archdiocese resolves to correct the wrongs of our past, being vigilant at all times and safeguarding children to the fullest through such efforts as mandatory Protecting God’s Children training in our Safe Environment program by every clergyman, employee or volunteer in our archdiocese.

Rejoicing in the resurrection of Christ means that we do everything we can as individuals, families, and the Church collectively to ensure that all others can share in that joy. Most of all, we are called to love and assist the least of our brethren and the most vulnerable among us. Christ calls us. We must respond.

May the joy of Christ resound in each of us.

The Most Reverend Michael Byrnes
Metropolitan Archbishop of Agaña