Easter Message 2004

He had lived a good life, had worked for years as we do, making things, buying, selling, exchanging things, making friends. Then he began sharing what he had learned of God. He gave himself to this work - saying that the time had come for God to extend his rule over people. He gathered large crowds, made followers, made enemies too. He was betrayed by one of his closest allies, denied by another, deserted by the rest of his chosen friends. He was tried and condemned as a criminal. They inflicted wounds on him. He saw his dreams vanish before him, his hope disappeared: My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Even God, yes even God. He died.

Jesus took all this, accepted all this, because he was living out what God wanted him to live out, a life lived under Gods rule. Unlike Adam, Jesus lived a human life to the very fullest in obedience and paid the price. Fully human, he died. He rose again, fully divine, never more to die.

We shall, each one of us, live and die, with greater or lesser pain and suffering. God knows how far down we can get, how useless we can feel, how pointless our lives can become. Add to this the pain and suffering of any disease, any sickness, any injury or just old age. Increase this pain with some resentments that linger, ruined friendships that cause distress, and you have a slice of everyones life, at some point or other. What can give meaning to these tangled bundles - our lives? If our lives are lived in his, then his life becomes ours. The misery of our suffering, he suffered, the agony of our death, he died. And this is the promise; his rising from the dead is our rising from the dead. Pain, suffering, misery is never final, it leads to glory.

For us living under Gods rule is always costly - in a marriage, in raising children, in relations within the family. Also, in our working conditions, in the company we have to keep. At times there is as much pain as there is joy. But the power of the resurrection, already at work in us, helps us overcome our daily challenges. St. Paul reminds us that: ?always we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus, too, may be visible in our body. Indeed, while we are still alive, we are continually being handed over to death, for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may be visible in our mortal flesh (2Cor 4:10). Easter: the day of life triumphing over death, joy over suffering, love over hate and peace all around.

Happy Easter to you all!

+ Marcel Gervais
Archbishop of Ottawa