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THE BISHOP'S CROZIER: Renewing Our Faith at Easter
Bishop James R. Golka

THE BISHOP'S CROZIER: Renewing Our Faith at Easter

By Bishop James R. Golka

I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Kerygma” is a Greek word meaning “proclamation.” The kerygma isn’t just a news announcement. It is the proclamation of salvation: that Jesus came to save us from sin and death, and that he invites us into relationship with him.

Father John Riccardo, the founder of Acts XXIX ministry to parishes, summarizes the kerygma in four words: Created, Captured, Rescued, Response. This is the story of salvation: that we were created by God for relationship with him, that we were captured by the enemy and enslaved to sin, and that Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, became man to suffer and die into order to rescue us from sin. The final part of this is our response: do we believe this?

Our answer to that question changes everything.

If your answer to that question is “yes,” then everything that happens has profound meaning. Jesus became man and died in order for us to be in relationship with the Father. He also invites us into his Paschal Mystery — his suffering, death, and Resurrection.

Through our baptism, we become dead to sin and become beloved children of the Father. We are given the opportunity to share in a new, divine life. The more we live life in union with Christ, the more we start to look like him, and the more he is able to work through us. This union means that even our sufferings start to take on an aspect of eternity, because we are suffering in Christ and for Christ.

No matter what happens in the world, no matter what happens in our country, no matter what happens to us, Christ will be there. He can redeem and transform our suffering, just as he redeems and transforms the horror of Calvary into salvation.

If your response to the question “do you believe?” is “no,” I’d like to encourage you to find out why. What things are keeping you from saying “yes” to the salvation that Jesus wants to give you?

There are many voices clamoring for your attention. The evil one will tell you to give up and that death has the last word. The world will try to distract you, to numb you in your pain, and to shame you in your suffering. Other people may tell you that it doesn’t matter what you do, or that you do not matter.

But you matter to Jesus. He thirsts for you. No matter where you are, he will never stop trying to find you and bring you to him.

If you have doubts, bring those before the Lord. Take five or ten minutes this Holy Week to meditate on what Jesus did for you on the Cross and to ask for his help. Maybe ask your pastor or deacon to meet with you and talk about the areas in which you are struggling. It is important to bring God and the Church into that struggle with you. Be honest with yourself and with God. He will supply whatever is lacking.

At Easter, the Church invites us to renew our baptismal promises. We publicly renounce Satan and publicly renew our faith in God. We say “no” to the lies of the devil and “yes” to God’s promises. The sacraments help us to be faithful to those promises. When we encounter our Lord in the sacraments, especially in Holy Communion, he gives us everything. He gives us himself.

As I mentioned earlier, there are many forces at work to undermine our faith. Division and polarization are part of the air that we breathe. This is not of God.

A few years before his death, Pope St. John Paul II wrote that “the seeds of disunity, which daily experience shows to be so deeply rooted in humanity as a result of sin, are countered by the unifying power of the body of Christ. The Eucharist, precisely by building up the Church, creates human community” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 24). Jesus gives us access to his unifying presence in the Eucharist. Only he can heal the darkness of the world. He wants to be united to us and to help us work with him in that mission.

This Easter season, I invite you to let Jesus in the Eucharist heal any areas of sin and division in your heart. If you are not able to receive our Lord in Holy Communion, make a spiritual communion and ask Jesus to be united with you spiritually. Think of how much it cost Jesus to give this amazing gift to us. Allow yourself to be fascinated by him and for your faith to be renewed as we rejoice in the victory of the Resurrection!

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