Joy of Easter at heart of Gospel

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Easter greetings and blessings to you! Our Lord Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, and has opened for us the gates of heaven! May we continue to rejoice with great joy for this most precious gift of faith and salvation.

After the rigors of Lent and the sadness of the passion, the joy of Easter returns to our hearts, families and parishes. Do you feel this joy?

Those who are newly-baptized and fully-joined to the church surely feel it. Those who are newly-confirmed, or are about to receive this beautiful sacrament of the Holy Spirit in the coming weeks, perhaps feel it, too. We who received the fullness of our initiation into Christ and the church long ago – do we feel the joy of Easter, or are our hearts dulled to God’s life in us by worldly distractions?

The joy of Easter is the heart of the Gospel, the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, our human lives have been ruled by prideful sin and grasping self-interest. Our predestined place in God’s house and garden has been lost to us, less because God does not permit us than because, in our darkness, we cannot find the way. Over the many centuries, God has reached out with many guides, especially the law and the prophets, until, in these days, he has sent his own son to be our true and final guide.

Do we grasp just how much Jesus shared our humanity with us? Do we grasp enough to be grateful and joyful for what God has done for us? Jesus Christ has paid the price of our redemption for us!

Freely giving his own life for us, he has risen from the tomb, conquering sin and death and setting us free from the inheritance of Adam’s sin! Now, in him and in his church, we are no longer slaves of sin and darkness, but adopted sons and daughters of light and life.

No longer bound to sin, we are free to love because Christ has so loved us. Though our feet still walk the paths of this world, our minds and souls have been enlightened and set free – if only we do indeed grasp this tremendous gift of faith, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, and live in him.

My dear sisters and brothers, Christ has made all things new, by bursting the bonds of death on that first Easter morning. He longs to renew our hearts as well. Jesus died so that we might live – not merely in body, but above all in soul. It is His love and mercy that we all desire, wherever we might look for it.

Now – here at Easter – it is poured out for us with such abandon, how can we not see? It pours forth from Jesus’s most sacred heart, pierced through on the cross with a soldier’s lance, yet still alive, still burning even now with the unquenchable fire of divine love. Will you not let your heart also catch this holy fire of love, and with great joy and newness of life, turn away from all that holds us back from God?

May these most joyful days of Easter set your heart burning with holy love for God and all people and renew once more your faith and devotion. Please pray for me, just as I pray daily for all of you.

Most joyful Easter!

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City

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