Bishop’s Easter message: Overcoming darkness with hope

There are a good number of words we use at Easter time: we wish each other “Happy Easter” and we use the word “joy” to describe our innermost feelings. These are appropriate, for it is a happy time and we do reflect on the joy of Jesus’ resurrection and indeed the promise of our own resurrection. Easter is also a day on which we might consider reflection on the word “hope.”

I believe that hope is a special dimension of faith. Hope is something we have when faith seems so difficult or even impossible, when we might be living in darkness or be overwhelmed by whatever. …

At times like this, there has to be a new dimension of faith, an added drive, a dynamic desire to see what is unseen.

In the Easter Gospel of St. John that we hear proclaimed every year, there are three characters who arrive at the tomb: Mary Magdalene, Peter and John. Mary believes that the body has been stolen, and Peter is puzzled, but John “saw and believed.” He knew that the body of Jesus had been raised. His faith had this added dimension; he reached beyond the darkness.

John lived longer than any of the other disciples and the virtue of hope was a necessity in his life. He lived for 50 years more and he saw so many instances of change and difficulty in the early church. There were so many occasions where there must have been some darkness in his life, but hope continued to sustain him so that even many years later he was able to write a beautifully hopeful Gospel as well as epistles and the Book of Revelation, which itself is a message of hope and consolation and challenge for all who dare to believe.

In his Gospel, he refers to himself as the beloved disciple and clearly indicates a special relationship with the Blessed Mother. Through all those years between the Resurrection and the writings he authored, his faith was alive with hope; hope did not allow the moments of darkness to weaken that faith.

We live in a world and in a time where there is plenty of darkness. Each day we see horrible stories of people suffering terribly; of people experiencing the darkness of disappointment, of hurt, of death, of sickness, of disillusionment; the list goes on and on. This darkness cannot be lived through, except through faith and the hope that can keep faith alive.

We must be able to dream, to see beyond the present moment, to see that ultimately, goodness triumphs. To have a dream is to have hope and we must open our eyes and hearts to the tremendous signs of hope in our midst.

Let us pray on this Easter day and throughout this Easter season that we will come to a deeper understanding of what the Resurrection actually means. It does not mean the elimination of all crosses; it does not mean the end of darkness. It is, rather, a call to embrace our crosses, to walk through the darkness in the clear hope that the Risen Lord will lead us to light, peace and joy. A blessed Easter to you all!