SCRANTON – By defeating death through the power of the resurrection, Jesus provides hope and a way forward amid the pain and struggles in our lives.

That is the message Bishop Joseph C. Bambera provided to the faithful during Easter Sunday Mass, April 4, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter.

“Through their encounter with the risen Jesus, the lives of those who ventured to his tomb were changed forever,” Bishop Bambera said. “Their lives were changed because God had redirected the course of human history through the resurrection of his Son. By embracing our humanity, Jesus gave us hope by identifying with us in his life, suffering and death.”

Just like the first followers of Jesus, the bishop noted that many people had uncertainty, pain and confusion at the beginning of the current COVID-19 pandemic just one year ago. Despite the challenges associated with the virus, many healthcare workers, first responders, clergy, religious and essential workers not only consoled frightened individuals but also inspired them.

“Like the women who ventured to the tomb of Jesus on that first Easter day, these selfless souls would not allow themselves to be paralyzed. Instead, they worked tirelessly to keep the flame of hope burning in our lives,” Bishop Bambera explained. “And so did all of you! More than you might realize, you provided hope. In so many and different ways, you responded to the needs of others and you served generously and selflessly by telephoning shut-ins. You delivered food, helped teach your children and grandchildren, you shared from your bounty with those less fortunate.”

The bishop also emphasized the words of Pope Francis, in his most recent encyclical letter, Fratelli tutti, which said, “No one is saved alone; we can only be saved together.”

“This Easter Day, more than any other, reminds us that although wounded and broken, we are loved and have reason to hope because Jesus has triumphed over sin and death. For such great gifts, may we simply give thanks. And may we trust that the risen Lord, who has won for us the fullness of life, will grasp hold of our hands and lead us to peace,” the bishop said as he ended his homily.

The 10:00 a.m. Mass on Easter was televised by CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton. It was also livestreamed on the Diocese of Scranton website, YouTube channel and social media platforms.

More than 150 people attending the Mass wore face masks and were at social distances from one another in alternating pews, in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols. The Mass opened with the joyful song, “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today.”

During the Mass, prayers were offered for those afflicted by the coronavirus.

After celebrating Easter last year at home on television or via livestream, many parishioners were thrilled to be back at Mass in person this Holy Week and Easter.

“I’m really excited. I’m happy that the churches are finally open and allowing people to be safe, socially distant and take precautions but actually be back at church,” parishioner Tara Marta said.

“It was really hard last year not being able to come here and worship,” Laura Welde of Archbald said. “I’m very happy. It feels very good.”

“It’s the holiest time of the Christian calendar. It is very important to be in church. Unfortunately, everybody can’t fit in here but they do show everything on television and people do like to watch from home but it’s not like being here in person. Nothing beats it,” Bernadette Hopkins of Throop added.

“It just felt too unnatural not to be able to come to church. You don’t realize it until you can’t come,” Ann Atanasoff of Clarks Summit explained. “It is not the same as being here in person!”