|Easter Vigil – April 15, 2017|
|Given at the Cathedral of the Annunciation, Stockton, California|
Nailed to the wood of the cross above Jesus were the words: 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.' The Romans understood this title for Jesus in a political sense, that Jesus was a revolutionary. That is why in the praetorium the soldiers put a royal cloak on him, gave him a staff and crowned him with thorns, mocking him with insulting greetings as a king as they beat him. On the other hand, the Jews at that time did not like the sign and wanted it to read that "he said he was king of the Jews." They saw Jesus as an imposter claiming equality with God. But the disciples of Jesus and the early Christians saw in these words spiritual truth – that Jesus is indeed the king of the Jews, that He had come from the Jews as the messiah, the anointed one of God. By his passion, death and resurrection he had fulfilled the Sacred Scriptures of old that promised to the people a messiah – the Christ – who would come from God. For those who believe, Jesus is the Christ who has taken away the sins of the world, has overcome death and has been raised up in glory, reigning at the right hand of God in the glory of heaven. On the appointed day at the end of time He is the one who will gather up all those who are faithful into the glory of resurrected life for all eternity. "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live." Jn 11:25
Today there are those like the Romans who reject the gospel as political. They reject Jesus as a king for justice and peace; they reject his teaching on non-violence and the love of one's enemies; they ridicule all that the Parable of the Good Samaritan teaches about who is our neighbor; they mock forgiveness. Then there are those who consider Jesus an imposter – he is no greater than any other religious personage in history. He is not the Son of God. He is not the savior of the world. He has not risen from the dead. It is a false claim that He and the Father are one.
But we are Christians. On this Easter Sunday we profess our faith in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. We are filled with great hope because Christ is the light of the world who shines brightly in every dimension of our human existence. Even though the forces of evil still raise their ugly heads, even though Christians are still being martyred, even though we may endure hardship, we do not abandon our trust in God. Our faith in the Risen Lord gives us the courage we need each day to live for God and for the good of one another. There can be peace on earth. There can be right relationships with God, with one another, with the earth and with ourselves. Our consciences can be enlightened by the grace of our Risen Lord. Easter is the feast of 'Alleluia.' Let us never give up hope, for Christ has promised that all who are faithful will be raised up on the last day, gathered into one great people of God for all eternity.
"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." Jn. 11:25-26
|Bishop Stephen Blaire|