Dear Friends,

“Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. … But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.’”

These words from Saint Mark’s Gospel confronted the first followers of Jesus on the day of his resurrection and boldly affirmed God’s promise to save his people. Yet, despite the hope that such words imparted, the followers of Jesus were still amazed and fearful. They didn’t understand. They would come to faith in the resurrection- but not immediately.

We know from accounts recorded in the Acts of the Apostles that the early Christian community did come to embrace Easter faith. We know too that despite the challenges that they faced, because of their encounter with the risen Jesus, they were of one mind and heart and worked together to proclaim by their lives the living presence of God in the world.

And yet, not unlike the experiences of those first Christians, the harsh reality of life continues to confront us with suffering and death. We have only to look to the Holy Land and the war raging between Israel and Hamas – to Ukraine – to Haiti – to Syria – to the families who grieve senseless deaths from the recent terrorist attack in Moscow – and to far too many lands around the globe that are enveloped by political unrest, abuse and blatant disrespect for human life. The scope of suffering and pain that is present throughout our world on a daily basis is incomprehensible.

While hardly free from grief and pain in our own land, in our families, and in our personal lives, we can choose to retreat from the global reality confronting so many of our brothers and sisters. Or, we can turn to the only thing that enables our broken world and lives to find healing, hope and peace: the Easter miracle – the promise of redemption won for us through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus!

The great Christian martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed in a Nazi death camp weeks before the Allied victory in World War II, challenged his fellow Christians to understand that the resurrection does not merely promise us life in God’s eternity. Nor should redemption be reduced to “being redeemed out of sorrows, hardships and longings or an escape route out of earthly tasks and difficulties.” Rather, the risen Christ “takes hold of human beings in the midst of their lives. … Christ did not die to take us out of the world, but to affirm our existence in it. Yes, we have the hope of resurrection in the future. But we have the faith of redemption in the here and now.”

Pope Francis, reflecting upon our need for hope as we navigate a complicated world and our own challenging lives, put it best.

“To experience the hope of Easter, we must be willing to enter into the mystery of God. … The mystery demands that we not be afraid of reality: that we not be locked into ourselves, that we not flee from what we fail to understand, that we not close our eyes to problems or deny them, that we not dismiss our questions. … To enter into the mystery of God, we need the humility to recognize who we really are, creatures with strengths and weaknesses, sinners in need of forgiveness,” the Holy Father said.

As such, we need to appreciate our powerlessness and our absolute dependence upon God.

In fact, powerlessness and dependence upon God become the very seedbeds for faith; a faith born not from some sort of proof – but born within hearts that are humble enough to seek the presence of God – a faith characterized at times by uncertainty and doubt – but a faith, nonetheless, that leads to an unshakable trust in a person: the person of Jesus, risen from the dead. That is Easter, brothers and sisters, and where we find hope and lasting peace.

One of the greatest signs of the power of the resurrection is the presence of 177 catechumens and candidates from throughout the Diocese of Scranton who will be baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and presented for full communion in the Catholic Church during the great Vigil of Easter. These catechumens and candidates – our relatives, neighbors and friends – will join with thousands of catechumens and candidates from around the world to publicly profess their faith in Jesus Christ and to assume their place with us in Jesus’ body, the Church.

Brothers and sisters, thank you for your willingness to walk with me on this incredible journey of faith, along with our dedicated priests and deacons and women and men in consecrated life, as together we seek to proclaim the risen Jesus and his gospel of life.

This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad!

Faithfully yours in the Risen Christ,


Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera
Bishop of Scranton