As believers, we need to be joyful, fearless, persevering Church

| Archbishop Bernard Hebda | March 31, 2016
Archbishop Bernard Hebda

Archbishop Bernard Hebda

Throughout these days of Easter, the readings at Mass remind us of the connection between being disciples of Christ and giving witness to his resurrection. Like Mary Magdalen, Simon Peter, John the beloved disciple and Thomas, we’re called to announce that the Jesus who suffered and died on the cross truly rose from the dead. It’s a story that tests our credulity (how many people do we know who have risen from the dead?). And yet, we know it to be true because of the eye witness testimony of that first generation of believers who saw the empty tomb, who were invited to explore the wounds in the hands and side of the risen Christ, or who shared a meal with him on the seashore and watched him eat the fish that he had prepared. From generation to generation, that testimony has been passed on with great care in the Church — and today that privileged task falls to us.

As Blessed Pope Paul VI noted, we live in an age that “listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers.” If we are going to lead others to encounter the risen Christ, it’s because the way we live gives credibility to what we proclaim.

If we are not a joyful Church, a fearless Church, a persevering Church, a self-sacrificing Church, who is going to believe us when we speak about a God who humbled himself to take on human flesh, who emptied himself on the cross, who washed the feet of his disciples, and who asked his Father from the cross to forgive even those who were persecuting him?

I am humbled by the opportunity that Pope Francis has given me to serve as shepherd of this flock as we together strive to give a more convincing witness to Jesus’ presence in this local Church.

In the days since that announcement, which providentially coincided with the sacred Triduum, I have been thanking the Lord for the many ways in which I have already been inspired by your witness. I was in four different parish communities over the Triduum and all prayed beautifully. Their liturgies gave evidence of careful preparation and seemed designed to form us into a family of believers, united not only with our contemporaries, but also with our brothers and sisters around the globe and through the ages.

I was overwhelmed, moreover, by the joy of those whom I was privileged to baptize and confirm at the Easter Vigil, and impressed by the devotion and diversity of those who came to the Cathedral [of St. Paul in St. Paul] in such great number to experience the Lord’s healing in the sacrament of reconciliation. I was delighted to hear of the many charitable activities undertaken by our parishes, schools and youth groups, as so many went out of their way to be modern-day Veronicas or Simons of Cyrene for a brother or sister in need, recognizing in them the suffering Christ on his way to Calvary.

I was personally encouraged by the many expressions of congratulation and welcome as you learned of my appointment. I particularly appreciated your promises of prayers, and I already know that they are going to be necessary. The challenges before us are real and substantial, but the Triduum and Easter teach us that we have a God who is faithful to his promises and who brings victory out of defeat. If we are faithful to him in giving concrete witness to Jesus’ resurrection, I am quite confident that our future can look very different from our present.

I pledge my best effort and hope that your strengths will compensate for my weaknesses and vice-versa. Please keep me in your prayers and be assured that you will be in mine as well. May God who now begins this good work in us bring it to fulfillment.

Como creyentes, necesitamos ser alegres, sin miedo, una Iglesia perseverante

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Category: Only Jesus

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