Recently I attended a gathering of forty thousand Catholics involved in ministry and teaching in California. I was deeply uplifted and indeed renewed by this positive experience.

Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Carlow Nationalist.
This column appeared on 2nd April 2008

Recently I attended a gathering of forty thousand Catholics involved in ministry and teaching in California. I was deeply uplifted and indeed renewed by this positive experience. This happened in a Diocese that has being crippled and deeply bruised by scandal, and yet the atmosphere was one of enthusiasm, renewal and celebration. Key to this positive enthusiastic gathering was the great sense of commitment shared by all who belonged to the Church, celebrating the many wonderful spiritual gifts that comes, from having an intimate friendship with Jesus Christ.

I am reminded of this gathering, because essentially it sums up what this Easter Season invites us all to celebrate. In a Diocese such as Los Angeles, crucified by scandal there are now clear signs of light and hope. Easter is a celebration of hope, an opportunity to begin again, a time of renewal, and above all an occasion to ponder on a God who tells us, that all is possible, with his love and grace in all our lives.

The Easter story is not a historic celebration, when we recall a significant event that happened over two Thousand years ago. Resurrection is spirituality, a way of life, that as followers of Christ, we are invited to participate and live as children of the light.

The Disciples discovered an empty tomb, a tomb transformed from death to life, a tomb that announced to the whole world, Jesus, just as he promised, had now Risen from the dead. The darkness of sorrow and grief because of this had been transformed to brightness and new life. His rising to new life has also brought all our loved ones who have gone before us to the brightness of this new home with him in heaven.

The resurrection is a message of consolation to all who are bereaved, and are wounded by the death and absence of a loved one. Jesus alive, tells us “Do not be afraid, my peace I give you, I am always present,?
Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus the Risen Lord continues to walk with us on our journey through life. Jesus who embraced the depth and misery of human suffering is now truly alive where there is poverty, alienation, injustice and fear.

One of the great Resurrection groups in all our communities must be the AA society. For those who are imprisoned by addiction in any way, one of the first steps in recovery is to place trust in a higher power, that can liberate and guide. The Spirit of resurrection is felt in all our communities through many actions of kindness and generosity, good neighbours, compassionate ears that listen, hands that befriend the stranger. Resurrection reminds us that we are not alone; we belong to something much bigger than ourselves.

The spirit of resurrection is a call to embrace the most wounded and hurt in our communities with a love that comes from Jesus who fully empathizes with human suffering. Resurrection is also environmental and challenges us to care and protect the beauty of Mother Earth.

May the new life that is Christ continue to be our light and give us hope and healing.