My beloved Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
Alleluia! Christ, our Lord is risen! In our celebration of Easter, we are reminded once again that through the Paschal mystery, His death and resurrection has given us a certain hope of new life.
The reality of the Resurrection reminds us of God’s supreme reign over creation. Despair is overcome by hope; hatred is overcome by love; injustice by forgiveness and death by eternal life.
Indeed, the true meaning of Easter is revealed in light of the Paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ (CCC 1682). It is the death of our Lord Jesus Christ that has redeemed for us eternal life and salvation. Christ’s resurrection is the basis of Christian hope and salvation (1 Cor 15:14).
This Easter, I would like to offer three points for reflection:
1. New Life in Christ
By virtue of our baptism and our life of faith in Christ, we are initiated into life in Christ. Death no longer has a hold over us. Let us consider the words of St Paul, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17).
Through the resurrection of Christ, we are offered new life in Christ through the Holy Spirit. God’s triumph at the cross erases sin and death once and for all (1 Cor 15:25) and gives us a new and living hope.
As children of hope, let us rid ourselves of anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language, and live as a new creation in Christ, and put on the new self which, in the likeness of God, has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Eph 4:24).
St Paul exhorts us, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col 3:1-4).
2. Personal Encounter with the Risen Lord
Easter beckons us to a personal encounter with the risen Lord. To see the Risen Lord requires faith that leads to a personal encounter with Him. Mary Magdalene and the disciples’ encounter at the Tomb points us to ponder on our personal encounter with Him. Only when we have experienced the Lord in person, can we know the Father’s love. “No one has ever seen God; it is only the Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known” (Jn 1:18).
So the condition of seeing God is that we must see the Father through Jesus. This is why Christian faith and Christian prayer must be Christocentric. This encounter must take the form of a personal experience that touches the heart and the mind.
Without a personal encounter and a relationship with the Lord that involves the heart, mind and body, this God, who has incarnated Himself in Christ, would remain a distant God. From this encounter with Christ the Risen Lord, we find strength to go through the trials and challenges of life.
I encourage every Catholic not to be contented with merely an intellectual grasp of the faith, but to seek a personal encounter with Christ through a deeper prayer life and meditation on the Word of God.
Catholics should avail themselves to do a personal retreat every year for a few days, either individually or join a corporate retreat. A personal encounter with the Lord gives us the conviction to join the Church in mission of the New Evangelisation as personal witnesses to the gospel.
3. Go forth with Joy
Our Gospel is one of Joy. The Gospel must be proclaimed with joy and with passion. It must be presented as something so beautiful that every human person is attracted to it.
This something is someone, whom we call Jesus the Risen Lord, who comes to give us life abundantly, a joy the world cannot give, and the truth that sets us free. For this reason, no evangelisation is possible unless we have been evangelised and set on fire by the love of the Lord, and the truth He has come to reveal to us.
Until we have fallen in love with Jesus and the gospel, are so inspired by the Good News proclaimed by the Lord, and find hope, meaning and purpose, the gospel cannot be proclaimed with joy and excitement as did the first disciples who encountered the Risen Lord.
Let us then be filled with the presence of the living Christ through the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist so that we may go forth and boldly proclaim the good news with great joy and zeal!
May our hearts burn like the disciples while on the road to Emmaus, always conscious that joy cannot be contained and that goodness always spreads. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its nature to grow within us.
Let us heed the words of Jesus Himself and reach out to others to seek their good (EG, 9) and be missionaries bearing the Good News with joy, kindness, patience and love. May the Good News burn within our hearts as we seek to spread the goodness of the gospel to all whom we encounter!
To our newly baptised Brothers and Sisters in Christ, your saying “Yes” to Jesus this Easter is indicative of God having touched your lives. I welcome you to the family of God with great love and joy.
As you share in the sonship of Christ in baptism and become the adopted sons and daughters of God, and as you are incorporated into the body of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist, may you be filled with His graces so that you can be true witnesses of Christ’s love in the world, giving hope and life to all of humanity.
To do this, you must find strength and support from the community of faith. We cannot be evangelising missionaries unless we remain as disciples of Christ in a loving Christian community. The mission of Christ cannot be accomplished unless we are in communion with fellow Catholics.
So it is important that every Catholic must belong to a faith support group, whether in a Catholic cell group or Neighbourhood group. Otherwise, left alone, your faith will not stand in times of temptation, trial and suffering.
God continually beckons us to new life in Him, through Christ our Lord. And we can be confident that we, who respond in faith to the Risen Lord and testify to the power of His Resurrection, will share in His glory. May the blessed Virgin guide us towards Him, individually and collectively as Church.
Go forth to spread the gospel of Joy! Christ is risen, He has risen indeed!
Yours in Christ,
Archbishop William Goh