Dear Friends in Christ:
Happy Easter! Yes, we are still very much in the Easter season. The joy of the resurrection is so immense we cannot contain it to a mere day. In fact, St. Augustine stated:
We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!
How true! Nothing in this life can take away from our great joy and hope that comes from Jesus’ resurrection and the hope in his promise that we too shall rise with him to a new and eternal life. The suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus has changed the course of history and continues to do so. In the past and still today there are forces and people who are threatened by Jesus, his call to repentance and conversion and his gospel of love. Precisely because of this opposition, we, the followers of Jesus, must re-commit ourselves to living the truth of the gospel authentically and living it with joy! Despite the temptation to do so, we cannot be part-time Christians or put our faith in a lock box only to bring it out when we feel comfortable. Ours is a living life that is to be lived in all the moments of our life and in turn gives life and enhances our lives!
The recent terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists in Sri Lanka against Christians which left more than 300 innocent people dead and 500 injured show how much the Christian gospel is despised. It also illustrates how much the gospel and saving message of Jesus is needed. Imagine if these terrorists had come to know Jesus and his message of love and forgiveness. Imagine if they would have taken whatever was wrong or painful in their lives and offered it to Jesus and asked for his peace. Imagine how different their lives would have been if they knew Jesus and his love for them. Could they have sought to destroy themselves and so many others? Imagine if those who applaud their actions or cover for their actions knew Jesus. How different the world would be! Imagine if all of those here in our country who proclaim to be Christian actually lived their faith. The rancor, bitterness and negativity that is so much a part of our everyday society and culture would simply dissolve. Imagine if those here in America who do not know Jesus opened their hearts to him. Instead of concerns about micro-aggressions, victimization and safe spaces, we would know the peace and love of Jesus. We would know and offer mercy and forgiveness. We would know and live in the grace of Jesus.
There have been more Christian martyrs in the last one hundred years than in the preceding nineteen centuries combined. The Easter killings last week are not alone or new. Every day throughout the world, Christians are dying for bearing the name of Jesus Christ. Many others are being imprisoned and suffering persecution. Today in China, churches are being razed and priests and bishops are put in jail. In India, Pakistan and Nigeria, Christians are being killed and persecuted. In the Arab world, Christians are not allowed to freely worship, bibles are not allowed to be printed or brought into the country. Converts to Christianity can be imprisoned or worse. Here in the U.S., senators openly criticize and question the fitness of judicial appointees not for their legal competency, but because they are Catholic. Around the U.S., Catholic social services and medical care services are curtailed or threatened simply for holding to the Catholic faith.
The reason the world hates Christians, Jesus tells us is because it has hated him first! (Jn 15:18) Yet in the face of all this, we not only maintain our faith in Jesus but are called to boldly live it and share it with all people. We continue to live the joy of our new life in Christ! For we know that evil, sin and death have been conquered in Jesus, risen from the dead.
Christ is risen! He is truly risen! Alleluia!
In pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately