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An Easter Message from Archbishop Leo

Posted : Mar-30-2024

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Praised be Jesus Christ.

My dear brothers and sisters,

On this most joyous occasion of the celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus from the dead, I extend heartfelt greetings to you, your loved ones and our entire Catholic community. Happy and Blessed Easter.

As he had promised and foretold, Christ rose from the dead on the third day. That event that took place a long time ago changed forever the course of history. Our world has never been the same. Not only did his rising from the tomb prove that he is truly the Son of God and that his teachings are most trustworthy, it also points to the reality and Power of the Resurrection - something which cannot be consigned to a one-time historical event, long ago and far away. The good news is this: today, every day, for you and me and for everyone who approaches the throne of grace and mercy with faith and devotion, the Power of the Resurrection is made available. This power which enabled Christ to pass over from the land of the dead into the land of the living, this life-giving power is now accessible to each of us. Therefore, a new beginning is in our reach, new hope springs forth and a new life has been purchased for us by Christ’s love and self-sacrifice. This Resurrection Power, when we tap into it through prayer, the sacraments and, above all, faith, operates in us in marvelous ways and allows for profound transformations to take place. Now, this gift isn’t just for one day out of the year. We begin today indeed an entire Season.

You see, when we look back and consider, our year is knitted together with different seasons, different passages of time, cyclical in nature, until we arrive back and begin again. We know that there is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven, as the Scriptures tell us. And as we enter the liturgical season of Easter, we are called to recognize that it truly is a season of joy that God gives to us. The penitential season of Lent – 40 days of increased prayer, fasting and almsgiving – has ended and we now immerse ourselves in the Easter season with great exuberance. And if the 40 days of Lent seemed like a long season to you, I have some good news: Easter season lasts 50 days.

What is interesting is that we find ourselves at the onset of a period of time dedicated to experiencing and actively living out the joy of Easter. Emphasis on joy. We are invited to receive this joy from the hands of the Crucified and Risen Christ and in turn to share it with everyone we meet. When a child takes their first steps or says their first words, when a young person graduates from high school or university, or when a man and woman tie the knot or celebrate a milestone anniversary, do they keep this news, this joy to themselves? No, they certainly do not. Today they might send a text message or post it on social media. Similarly, we possess this wonderful and unbeatable news: Jesus Christ is risen and is alive. Henceforth, we heed the call: Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord, Share the Good News of Jesus’ life and teachings, Tell all those around us how the Power of the Resurrection is just one prayer, one act of faith away. Everyone needs to know how it can transform our lives and fill us with that joy that only comes from loving the Lord, from being in a right relationship with him. This sense of boundless joy is underscored beautifully in the Exultet which was sung at the Easter Vigil: “Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness. Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice, arrayed with the lightning of his glory, let this holy building shake with joy, filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.”

It is a season of joy, but it is likewise a season of new life. By his death on the cross, Jesus has rescued us from sin and everlasting death. And by his resurrection, a path for new life has been set forth before us. Just as the stone from Christ’s tomb was rolled away and he stepped out gloriously alive, he offers us that same opportunity every day to rise to a new, better, holier and more joyful life. If we are able to acknowledge our many different tombs and what is keeping us buried, and if, in faith, we bring those instances of death and burial to him asking for some share in his own Resurrection power, then a new and full life awaits us, not only in eternity, but here and now, today and every day. What the Risen Lord offers us is a season of living the abundant life, a life of meaning and of virtue, of love and of joy, of holiness and of service - all of this is ours for the living. It is up to each of us to accept this gift. Through the Resurrection of Jesus, we have been freed from the shackles of sin – the empty tomb is for us a call to live life to the full by living it for his glory and his purpose. From a profound reflection on the meaning of the Resurrection, the great saint and doctor of the Church, John Chrysostom, in a well-known Easter sermon, preached the following words: “O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are abolished. Christ is risen and the demons are cast down. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life is freed. Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.”

And finally, with that incredible joy now in our reach and the promise of new life made available, we are naturally led to a living deeply in a season of hope. Jesus has opened the gates of heaven for each one of us; he has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life - and this gives us a most lofty goal to pursue for the rest of our lives, a “dream destination,” if you will: God’s dream for us becoming reality.

I encourage you, at this time, my dear friends in the Lord, to let go of your fears and your worries if you can, or at the very least, place all your faith and all your hope in the Risen Christ Jesus – you will understand in doing so what immense hope his call holds for you. In the words of that unforgettable hymn, Victimae paschali laudes: “Christ, my hope, has risen: He goes before you into Galilee.” Jesus is indeed the hope of the world, the hope of every human person, my personal hope and yours. Wherever he is, despair dissipates. Whenever he enters our hearts, a brighter tomorrow is on the horizon. And Galilee is our everyday life, our vocation and our commitments, our environment and our daily toil, our human condition in all its messiness and complexity – Jesus is there and offers us new hope, great hope in which we are to relish as his beloved friends and disciples.

Dear good people of the Archdiocese of Toronto – my prayer for you this Eastertide is that over the next 50 days, from now until Pentecost Sunday, your hearts may be filled with the love of the Risen Lord Jesus. With that gift inside of you, you can experience the great joy of the season and share it with all whom you encounter; you can embrace the prospect of new life offered by his Resurrection Power and you can grow in your faith journey through the steadfast hope he instills in our renewed hearts. Happy and Blessed Easter!

Sincerely Yours in Jesus with Mary,

Most Reverend Francis Leo
Archbishop of Toronto