From the CatholicTV Network — Join Bishop Robert Reed in praying the Stations of the Cross at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington, KY.
A message from Bishop Iffert
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Risen Lord,
It is the most joyful message we can hear. The Lord Jesus is risen from the dead! It is true! He is risen! Let us rejoice and be glad.
This Easter Sunday morning we will read in our churches the story of the Resurrection from the Gospel of John (20:1-9). First Mary Magdalene, then Peter, then the “other disciple” journey to the tomb to find the stone rolled away, the burial clothes rolled up and placed neatly to the side, the body of Jesus missing. The Scriptures tell us that the other disciple saw and believed. That’s where this Easter morning’s Gospel ends, with the disciple’s budding faith.
A person might long for the Gospel story to continue. You might want to hear the stories of Jesus’ resurrection appearances to Mary Magdalene and the disciples. On Easter Sunday, however, the Church in her wisdom pauses and invites us to wait a moment in the empty tomb. It is a moment full of promise. It is full of potential. Our hearts long with the disciple and his nascent faith and the evangelist’s narration makes it clear that these folks who love Jesus are still just beginning to understand the meaning of the Scriptures, that he had to rise from the dead.
This story is like that moment in a romantic comedy when one of the main characters realizes that she actually loves the fellow she thought was a friend or adversary. You know the moment. A heart is suddenly opened where it was once closed. There is a dawning realization that the protagonist has been blind. There is suddenly a new way of seeing and understanding all of the tension that has proceeded. The drama in the situation now becomes the trepidation that one might be too late, and the felt need to find and confess one’s love. The moment is full of power, potential, and hope for the future.
Easter is a love story! The one your heart longs for loved you first and to the fullest. The glorious cross announces that God loves you so much He willingly died for you. The empty tomb announces that no power on earth — not sin, not death — can keep the one who loves you from coming to your restless heart. LOVE will never abandon you. Your life can never be loveless. The one who loves you first and most has conquered the grave so that no trap can hold you or keep you from his love.
At Easter, God finally reveals His glory: He takes away the last veil and astonishes us as never before. We discover, in fact, that God’s glory is all love: pure love, mad and unthinkable, beyond every limit and measure … True glory is the glory of love, because it is the only one that gives life to the world. (Pope Francis, Angelus, April 2019)
Easter is a love story. In the Resurrection, the one who loves us comes bounding toward us to take us by the hand.
In Orthodox Christian iconography, I am told, the resurrected Jesus is never depicted alone. He is always depicted taking someone by the hand. With that strong hand, he is pictured lifting a saint from the grave or drawing a sinner to safety. The one whose strength rolled away the stone, now lends us his strong presence and assistance.
So as we pray this Easter season, let us imagine our hands in the hand of the Risen Christ. Cling to Him. Hold on to the hand that has reached out to save you. Never let go. He lifts us to himself. His love is our strength and our salvation.
Easter is a love story. This Easter, my first in the Diocese of Covington, I am very aware God has shown his love to me by taking me by the hand and leading me here to you. On this Easter Day — the great Feast of Unconquerable Love — let us love one another and In all things, give thanks!
Yours in the Love of the Risen Lord,
+Bishop John Iffert
2022 Diocesan Parish Annual Appeal
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