Easter Sunday message from Bishop Coyne
“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” ― G.K. Chesterton
It has been more than 2,100 years since the disciples first found the empty tomb, more than 2,100 years since they first encountered the Risen Christ in the upper room, more than 2,100 years since they saw Him ascend into heaven. It has been more than 2,000 years since those eyewitnesses to Christ’s death and resurrection died. They were witnesses of what they had seen to those who followed, the second and third generations of Christians. These later generations, like us today, did not know Christ in the flesh. Yet they believed just as we believe today. Chesterton in the quote above says that, “Faith means believing the unbelievable.” It is truly unbelievable that Christ rose from the dead, for no one else has since then. And yet we do believe, not simply because of the words of Scripture or any historical evidence that testify to the fact of Jesus’ resurrection, but because of the witness of others and the promptings of divine grace present in each human person. For this, we are truly blessed: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (Jn 20:29).
During those 2,100 years or more, the Church has commemorated the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in the weekly celebration of the Eucharist on the first day of the week and in the yearly celebration of Easter morning. In His life, Jesus Christ taught us what it means to “love the unlovable.” In His death on the Cross, He “pardoned the unpardonable,” not just the sins of those who were crucifying Him – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” – or were crucified with him – “Today, you will be with me in paradise” – but the sins of all humankind.
That encounter with boundless love and forgiveness did not end when the resurrected Christ left this world. Whenever the Church gathers to celebrate the Eucharist, we truly encounter the one who loves us, the one who pardons us and the one who wishes only to draw us to Himself. This is not a matter of faith. It is a matter of truth. Still, it takes faith to accept this truth, to believe in the unbelievable and to profess that faith. “I know that my Redeemer lives! What comfort this sweet sentence gives!”
As it has been for more than 2,100 years, the Church has been a beacon of hope “when everything seems hopeless.” Some may think that the present culture and moment of history have moved beyond the Church and its faith. But I think not. I believe that the preaching of salvation centered in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is a Gospel of joy and of Good News, is one that the world desperately needs now more than ever. Why? Because it is a message of hope to a world that many consider hopeless.