“Jesus is Risen! He is light for the world!
We are the bearers of that light by being a part of the community of the Church.”---Bishop Deeley
PORTLAND---“This Easter morning, we rejoice in the Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection is an affirmation of the truth that light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
The words of Bishop Robert Deeley were joyfully received by the assembly at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and a large audience of participants via livestream on Easter Sunday at the Mass of the Resurrection of Our Lord.
It is a time of rejoicing in Christ’s victory over death, in life that will not be destroyed, and in God, who created the heavens and the earth and has formed man and woman in his own image and likeness, has raised Jesus to a new immortal life.
“The Church has included in this celebration of the Risen Christ a candle such as this one near the pulpit, a Paschal candle,” said Bishop Deeley from the ambo as he delivered his homily on Sunday morning. “(The candle) was blessed at the vigil last night and carried into a darkened church bringing light into the darkness. When it was carried into the Church its arrival was announced; “The Light of Christ.” The candle is a reminder that we are called to live in the light of Christ and bring that light out into the world. Yes, this pillar of light is a symbol of the Risen Lord, victorious over darkness. Light itself is a sign of God’s love.”
A quick look around the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and most Maine churches during Holy Week provided mute testimony that this is no ordinary year. Crowd restrictions and social distancing eliminated the possibility of traditionally packed pews of the faithful, with many participating via livestream this year.
“We come to our celebration of Easter from a place which is not necessarily light or bright,” said the bishop. “It has been, in many ways, a dark year. We have dealt with a pandemic and we have seen a great loss of life, among those who have died, some of our own family members, loved ones, and friends. For too many people, this has also been an economically challenging time. The safety protocols have adversely affected many businesses and the jobs they support. The need for safety has isolated us, and we have missed the companionship of others, including at our churches. The isolation has also placed a burden on family life as the home became the school and the office as well as a place for the family to live. And so, indeed, we have found ourselves challenged.”
But the Easter season and our shared faith brings with it the promise of better days ahead and hope.
“In our union with the Lord Jesus, we are the ‘light of the world,’” said Bishop Deeley. “We cannot, on our own, cure this pandemic. In his most recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis has, however, reflected on the pandemic and the darkness it has brought to our world. He points our attention, however, to the light, to the hope he finds in the goodness of those people who have recognized that our lives are interwoven and we depend on each other. He raises up people who have continued to serve others even when it was dangerous for themselves: transport workers, doctors, cleaning personnel, nurses, ordinary people carrying out their responsibilities.”
Bishop Deeley said the purpose of Pope Francis’ letter was to teach again the message of Jesus encouraging us to recognize ourselves as united and to live accordingly.
“God's plan for humanity, that we live for one another as brothers and sisters, the pope reminds us, has implications for every aspect of our lives, from how we treat one another in our personal relationships to how we organize and operate our societies and economies. Jesus is Risen! He is light for the world! We are the bearers of that light by being a part of the community of the Church.”
In recognition of the blessing of that community and because it is through baptism that we are joined with Christ and receive a new birth in the Holy Spirit, during the Mass, the faithful renewed their baptismal promises from the pews and via livestream from home as Bishop Deeley sprinkled those present with newly blessed water.
The celebration of Easter continues for 50 days until the Feast of Pentecost (May 23), which commemorates the Holy Spirit’s descent upon the apostles. The seven weeks of the season of Easter are considered to be one continuous feast, with the Paschal candle lit throughout.