Categories: General Date: Apr 8, 2020 Title: Bishop Bart's Easter Message
Dear People of the Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador:
Early Sunday morning, in their desire to anoint the body of their Lord, Mary Magdalene and the other women witnessed the empty tomb. Their first reaction was not joy, euphoria or even surprise, but fear. Caught off guard and in a moment of panic, their thoughts turned to the worse case scenario, the desecration of the tomb.
The angel’s message to them is the same as the Gabriel’s message to Mary and the angel’s message to the shepherds in the field, “do not be afraid”. Words of consolation that re-echo throughout the Scriptures and especially from the mouth of the Lord. How we long to hear these words throughout the ages and in our time, too. “Do not be afraid, for the Lord is risen.”
It isn’t so much that he “has” risen, but that he “is” risen. His rising is not just a “past” event, but an ever-present event. The fact that he is risen is as real and as relevant yesterday, today and tomorrow. In it we find our peace.
That brings me to our present circumstances. Like Mary Magdalene and the women, we are experiencing a type of death. Whereas they beheld the passion and death of their Lord, we in turn experience the loss of many of our securities. Our lives have been thrown into turmoil, cut adrift, even from one another; we experience panic. Forced to physically distance ourselves from a large part of our family and friends, and unable to gather together as a faith community, our souls are not at rest.
“Be not afraid,” the Lord calls out over the stormy waters, “it is I.” Do not be afraid at what you are unable to do at this moment, or in this time, but cast your eyes on the one who is risen, whose presence in word, sacrament and community is made even more real by our intense desire for all three. Though we’ve had to adapt to being virtually present, our desire “to be one” is made stronger. What we may have taken for granted due to the force of habit is now exposed as a necessity, an urge welling within us. In this time, when we are undergoing the process of dying on many different levels, let us be open to the new growth that is in the process of being born.
In this I join my prayer to the prayer of many others, that we don’t just wait for the day that we can go back to doing all the things that we were used to doing, a perpetual state of busy-ness, but that, in the light of that which we have learned, that we have experienced together, we will be more intentional in our outreach, more inclusive in the way we structure our lives and more focused on the well-being of others, especially the most vulnerable in our midst. That, as we experience the pain that comes with this time of dying, we may be equally open to the opportunities and possibilities that will arise, and that we may draw on the grace of God and the power of the resurrection to make it so.
To you, your family, friends and communities I extend my fraternal blessing, and I wish you all a Happy Easter.