Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
Happy Easter! Today we celebrate the signature moment in all of human history. Jesus died for our sins and has risen from the dead. We can turn to him to receive his mercy and compassion. As we receive his love, we grow in joy, and should feel a natural desire to share Jesus with others.
We have certainly been through a challenging year: COVID, the exposure of racial wounds, civic unrest, and the disruption of our regular patterns of life. During all this, Jesus is still with us. He has not abandoned us, rather, he is near. This Easter Season we should draw ever closer to Him. He longs to be with us, to transform us in His love.
Pope Francis describes this renewal as follows: “The Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium #1)
We need joy. Our world needs joy. Now is the time to open our hearts to the joy Jesus offers to us. It doesn’t mean we are free of problems or concerns. Amid whatever situations we face, Easter gives us a reason for joy. We know that Christ has won the victory over death. Victory is assured. Our job is to live in the light of that truth and bring others closer to Jesus.
The word “evangelization” can be intimidating. We might think we need perfect theological answers if we are going to share our faith. That’s not true. We simply need to share with others the difference Jesus has made in our lives, give an example of how he has helped us, and perhaps offer to pray with someone. We let others know that if we have any joy – it’s from knowing the love of Jesus. It’s not too complicated to share with others that we are in love and the one with whom we are in love is Jesus. Here’s how Pope Francis explains our motivation for evangelization and how to enliven our enthusiasm to share Jesus with others:
“The primary reason for evangelizing is the love of Jesus which we have received, the experience of salvation which urges us to ever greater love of him. What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known? If we do not feel an intense desire to share this love, we need to pray insistently that he will once more touch our hearts. We need to implore his grace daily, asking him to open our cold hearts and shake up our lukewarm and superficial existence. Standing before him with open hearts, letting him look at us, we see that gaze of love which Nathaniel glimpsed on the day when Jesus said to him: ‘I saw you under the fig tree’ (Jn 1:48). How good it is to stand before a crucifix, or on our knees before the Blessed Sacrament, and simply to be in his presence! How much good it does us when he once more touches our lives and impels us to share his new life!” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 264.)
May Jesus fill your heart with love. May he give you a joy that can’t be contained but must be shared with others. Happy Blessed Easter Season!
The Most Reverend Robert J. McClory
Diocese of Gary