These words of this ancient Marian antiphon, the Regina Caeli, truly capture for us the joy of the Lord’s disciples and our own joy as we celebrate Christ’s victorious triumph over the darkness of sin and death during this Easter season.  Jesus had told his apostles that he would be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, that he would be condemned to death and handed over to the Gentiles, that he would be mocked, scourged and crucified, but that he would be raised on the third day.  (Mt. 20:18-19)
True to his word, Jesus has risen from the dead, just as he promised, and he has thus become the source of eternal life for all who put their faith and trust in him!

Each year during our celebration of the Paschal mystery, the passion, death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, we are reminded of the simple and yet profound fact that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:16)

Our faith is rooted deeply in the person of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God and the Son of Man, risen from the dead and now glorified at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  Jesus is truly alive!  So central is this fact to our understanding of the Christian mystery that St. Paul firmly reminds us that “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor. 15:17)

By his life-giving death and glorious resurrection, Christ has indeed reconciled us to the Father, destroying sin and death forever, and opening up for us the way to eternal life.  We experience the fruit of Christ’s victory for the very first time in our own baptism.  At this past Easter Vigil, well over 400 people in western Oregon received this gift of God’s mercy and were baptized in Christ!  We should share in their joy even as we renew our own baptismal promises.

This Easter also falls within this great Jubilee Year of Mercy. God is the Father of mercies, indeed the Father of Mercy incarnate in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son and our Lord.

For us, the risen Lord must become more and more the center and the very meaning of our existence, here and now.  Fully alive, Jesus must be a real and powerful presence in our lives.  He must be as real to us as those we most love in this world and who are closest to us.  He must never be allowed to become a historical abstraction, or someone who is somehow distant and unreal to us.

We must see in the glorious face of the risen Jesus, light, hope and peace for a fallen world and in the midst of our own daily struggles.  Where we experience darkness, he is our light.  Where we are tempted to despair and become discouraged, he is our hope and our joy.  Where there is war, where there is division and where there is conflict in our own lives, he comes to bring us his peace.  Where there is death he is the promise of eternal life!

It would be my hope and prayer that we in this local church of the Archdiocese of Portland would never lose sight of what our very existence is really all about, namely the salvation and new life that has been won for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Whether it is pastoral planning for our parishes and missions, the future of our Catholic schools, concern over our fallen away Catholics, new directions in faith formation and evangelization, concern for youth ministry and vocations, a desire to do more to reach out to immigrants and the marginalized among us, or any other pastoral endeavors, ultimately it is all about the Lord Jesus and our faith in all that God has revealed to us through him.  

May the Lord fill your hearts, your families and your homes with the light, joy and peace of his resurrection!  Christ is risen, alleluia!  He is truly risen, alleluia!