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Lent and Easter

Bishop asks, ‘Do we rise like Christ?’

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Bishop Michael W. Fisher delivers his Easter homily at St. Joseph Cathedral on April 3. The bishop reminded us that the resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of the Catholic faith. Photo by Patrick J. Buechi

Bishop Michael Fisher celebrated his first Easter Mass as shepherd of Buffalo on the warm spring morning of April 4. He compared the spring with flowers in bloom once again to a sculpture of the Risen Christ, the Cristo della Minerva,  created by Michelangelo. The work shows Jesus emerging victoriously and full of life from the cave where His body laid after his crucifixion.  

“It shows that He is exploding through the tomb, and He’s holding in His hand that which was the vehicle for His crucifixion and all the suffering – the cross,” the bishop described. “But the cross is dwarfed and this Risen Christ looks strong and youthful and exuberant. He hold this cross almost as if it is a weapon, a weapon against sin and death.”

Bishop Fisher pointed out a special quality about the Catholic faith. It is the only religion that claims to have a savior who rose from the dead. This is the core of Christianity. 

“The short story is, Christ has risen. He is risen in fulfillment as promised that ‘I will rise on the third day.’ The battle is over. There is no more controversy, because Jesus is Lord,” Bishop Fisher explained. “Today we celebrate the triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness, of peace over chaos, life over death, resurrection over the cross. We celebrate hope, patience in the fulfillment of God’s promise to His people. We also celebrate the uniqueness of who we are as Christians. And that is the resurrection of our Lord.”

The day’s Gospel reading – John 20:1-9, tells us that when Jesus emerged from His tomb, He left behind His linen clothes. This demonstrates that He did not allow any material possessions to hold him down. The bishop asked if we rose like Jesus on Easter morning, ready to make a difference for the better and leave behind that which is truly not needed.

“If we must rise with Christ, we must equally be ready to detach ourselves from all unnecessary things that pull us down spiritually. Through our Lenten observances – prayer, fasting, almsgiving – we die with Christ. So let us rise with Him through the power of the Holy Spirit,” the bishop said.

Like the Apostles, our duty is to  spread the Good News of the Lord’s resurrection, not only through words, but by how we act as well. 

“We must seek the things of light, things that are noble, and things that are of God. we must seek heavenly things by living like citizens with one foot certainly in this world, but with another foot planted firmly in the next, in eternal life, in the city of God,” the bishop said, closing his homily.

The congregation of the nearly filled cathedral that had gathered for the Easter Mass, then made a renewal of their baptismal promises to renounce Satan, believe in God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the esurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

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