The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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April 13, 2001 Issue
Bishop Banks' Corner

Bishop Robert J. Banks
Bishop Robert J. Banks

May Easter renew us with Spirit

Easter celebrates what happened and happens

My dear friends in Christ,

The Lord is risen, alleluia. May our Easter celebration raise us up and renew our lives by the Spirit that is within us, alleluia.

That is a much heavier greeting than the usual, "May you have a happy and blessed Easter." But the greeting captures the deeper meaning of what our Easter celebration is all about. It is not simply a pleasant day on which we are happy to be Christians.

I have borrowed those words and thoughts from the text of the Mass which you and I and the whole Church will join in celebrating this Easter Sunday. They connect what happened almost 2000 years ago with what we pray will happen now in our own lives.

First we celebrate and rejoice in the fact of Jesus' resurrection. As humans, we are naturally happy that he has been vindicated in the face of those who opposed him. As followers of the Lord, we receive assurance that the way of life he has pointed out to us is the right way. As believers, we share the apostles' joy that Jesus is truly Lord. As people who experience pain and suffering in our own lives, we are consoled and reassured to see a cross can become the way to joy forever. As normal Americans, we are glad that Jesus won.

But Jesus rose to life after death to show us that he would be present and alive for all his followers, not just the few who saw him two millennia ago. Jesus did not want to leave us just a message and a story; he wanted to be with us alive in his message, in his Church, and in his sacraments, especially the Eucharist. And he would do this by sharing with all of us his Spirit - which was his very first gift to the apostles on that first Easter day.

But he shares life with us only after he died - a powerful way of saying that we too need to die to one way of life and be born into a new way of life. Hundreds of thousands of persons will be doing that this Easter as they are baptized into Christ and born into his Church.

And to those already baptized who wonder if their lives are a waste or who fear they have done something so wicked that God can never forgive, Jesus risen from death offers the chance to start all over again through the power of his Spirit.

In fact, is there anyone of us who does not have some dead spots within us that need resurrection? Dead spots like an addiction or unhealthy habit, a difficulty loving someone, a tendency to anger, a lack of concern for the poor, a laziness about prayer or church. We too need the touch of Jesus' life-giving Spirit.

We do not celebrate Easter just by remembering what happened two millennia ago. We celebrate it by what happens in our lives today.

The Lord is risen, alleluia. May our Easter celebration raise us up and renew our lives by the Spirit that is within us.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Robert J. Banks
Bishop of Green Bay

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