Easter Message from Fr. Stephen Rowntree, S.J.

Posted: April 7, 2017 in Pastor's Page

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

 

EASTER MESSAGE FROM FR. STEPHEN ROWNTREE, S.J.

 

The Resurrection of the Lord

Each year the Catholic Church solemnly celebrates, as we have just celebrated, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday. The events remembered happened almost two thousand years ago in a minor outpost of the mighty Roman Empire. The story we have heard tells of how a popular and promising Jewish prophet/preacher who taught with authority and performed miracles was betrayed by one of his closest followers, arrested by the religious leaders of the day, tried as a blasphemer, turned over to the Roman authorities who acquiesced in the sentence of death, and after torturing and mocking him executed him by crucifixion.

Many Palestinians of the day hated their Roman overlords. Periodically they rallied behind popular leaders who led them to attack Roman troops. The Romans ruthlessly crushed and killed those who rebelled.

Jesus of Nazareth, according to the scriptural witnesses, did not advocate armed revolt. In fact he insistently warned against it. However, he did preach the coming of God’s kingdom in which God himself would again rule his chosen people. And Jesus preached solemn judgment against the religious authorities of the day and the Temple which they ruled. Jesus clearly threatened the religious establishment, and it took measures to eliminate him. And the political establishment acted on the maxim, “better safe than sorry,” to prevent suspected or imagined threats to its authority. Thus Jesus’ crucifixion.

The Gospel stories tell of the fear, cowardice, and betrayal of Jesus’s closest disciples after his arrest. All seemed lost. And they feared that they would be the next targets of Roman terror.

The story so far is full of action and emotion. However, it’s almost certain that if this had been the end of the story, it would never have been written. And even if it had it would have been lost among all the other stories of Roman ruthlessness in preserving its rule.

Why do we remember what is mostly a gruesome story? The only answer that makes any sense is the story of what happened next, of what happened after Jesus’ death and burial. A faithful woman disciple comes upon the tomb where Jesus had been laid, finds the stone rolled back, and the body of Jesus gone. The Gospels gone on to report how Jesus was seen alive over several days by different disciples, speaking with them, eating with them, consoling them. Jesus who died has been raised from the dead. Amazing!

 

In the Risen Lord,
Fr. Eddie Gros, Pastor