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Easter Message 2019

"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again." Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.” (Luke 24: 5b-9)

Dear Friends in Christ,

We hear these words quoted above in our Easter liturgies this year. The angelic question at the beginning of this verse is one that I have reflected on many times. I hear the question, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” as a wake-up call, a call to order my priorities in line with God’s priorities, and my desires with God’s desires. It is an invitation to self-examination, repentance, and prayer. Sin is, after all, missing the mark and looking for fulfillment in that which cannot fulfill. The angelic call to the women and to us is a call to turn and look in the right places.

But what struck me this year, despite all the rich meditation reflecting on this phrase can bring, is that if we stay here we have missed Luke’s call. Remember, Luke’s Gospel is the Gospel of the Spirit, a two-part work about the Spirit at work in Jesus and the same Spirit at work in Christ’s continuing body, the Church. To focus on the angelic question is to look inward when the women provide us the example of what our response to the news of the risen Jesus must be.

“They remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.”

We, too, are called to leave the tomb and go forth and proclaim that Christ is Risen. To remember Jesus’ words and proclaim his resurrection is our call not only on this Easter Day but every day. We are called to remember all that Jesus taught us — to love our neighbor by actions of love and compassion, and to forgive those who would or have harmed us — and then do it.

By God’s grace, the early Church grew because the first Christians availed themselves of that grace and power to live lives that showed they were followers of Christ. People were drawn by the love they showed and lived. They could do so even in the midst of difficult times, even in the face of death because they remember Jesus — his life and words — and sought to be like him. They could do so because they knew as do we that Jesus is Alive and we live in him now and will live in him forever.

The resurrection of Jesus is God’s call to a way of life. Let us proclaim this way with our lips and lives.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

Bishop of Milwaukee