Bishop reflects on life in the tomb
After 40 days of sacrifice, Easter had finally arrived. St. Joseph Cathedral, decked out with colorful flowers, welcomed a healthy congregation to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and renew their own baptismal promise.
“Christ is risen, alleluia. Truly He is risen,” announced Bishop Michael W. Fisher on Easter Sunday, April 9. “My brothers and sisters, on this happy day, this joyous day, we revel in the joy of our Lord’s resurrection. That which defines who we are as Christians, as followers of Christ. Hopeful in our own participation in that resurrection.”
As the days’ Scripture readings made reference to Mary Magdalen finding Jesus’s empty tomb, Bishop Fisher spoke on his own experiences with burial grounds. As a boy he had to pass a cemetery every day on his paper route.
“I can tell you it was quite ominous for me to go through there with my wagon. I went through there pretty quickly,” he said. “It was a bit scary for a boy my age. It was not a place that I wanted to hang out for too long.”
He grew to see cemeteries for the history they held. In the early days of his priesthood, he would celebrate his daily office in front of the graves of his parents. He now has a photo of those headstones on his computer.
“It’s a very sort of dismal looking picture and sometimes that’s how we feel when we experience a cemetery or are going to a tomb or a gravesite like that,” he said of the photo taken on a cold January morning. “I wish I’d been able to take a picture of the springtime because it’s much more brighter and beautiful scenery, but also gives you even a better sense of that hope, that hope that each one of us knows as Christians. It gives to us what makes that scene in the cemetery one not of finality, and we know that it’s not the end, that it is just the beginning of life with God. Indeed, Jesus has risen and he calls us to resurrection.”
In “Evangelii Gaudium,” his 2013 apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis describes a certain class of Christians who have not had an experience of the Lord and His love, and therefore receive no joy from the Gospel.
“Are they truly looking through that lens of the resurrection glasses?” the bishop asked. “In today’s Gospel, we see that the resurrection didn’t sink in for the disciples until they witnessed the results themselves.”
Following his homily, Bishop Fisher led the congregation in a renewal of their baptismal promise, where the congregation renounced sin, evil and Satan, and affirmed their belief in God, Jesus and the saints.
In closing, the bishop thanked everyone involved in making the Easter celebrations possible at St. Joseph’s. He even joked that the choir spent so much time rehearsing at the cathedral, he thought they were going to take up residence in the loft.
Listen to Michael Mroziak’s report.