Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, God has done a marvelous deed and transformative act of love for us in raising our Lord and savior Jesus Christ from the dead. Let us now rejoice and be glad and sing praise to him for conquering the power of sin and death and offering eternal life to us in the risen Christ. For Christ has risen from the dead and is now living in our midst as the Lord of life who dies no more.

In preparation for the resurrection of Christ at Easter, we disciplined and intensified our efforts to do good and avoid evil through fasting, prayer, almsgiving, and abstinence. As followers of Christ and members of his Body, the Church, we personally decided to imitate his life, experience his suffering and death, and rise with him into new life. Today, Christ has risen from the dead and he has also raised us to life with him because his suffering, death, and resurrection was for our salvation and redemption. We therefore, have a good reason to celebrate this great day with joy and gratitude in our hearts because we are brought to life again in union with Christ Jesus.

On this day of Easter and throughout the season of Easter and beyond, we celebrate and reflect on the meaning and significance of Christ’s resurrection from the dead on the Church, humanity as a whole, creation, and the forces of sin and evil in our world. Each and every one of us is a member of the Church through baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection. St Paul tells us in Rom. 6:4 that we were buried with Christ by baptism into his death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” As a result of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, humanity as a whole is now reconciled with God and regained its lost dignity and immortality. The whole of creation is also renewed with the resurrection of Christ at Easter because the risen Christ is now the source of new life for all creatures. St. Paul clearly noted in 1Cor. 15:20 that “Christ is the first fruit of those who have fallen asleep.” He is, therefore, the one “through whom creation is set free from bondage to decay and obtained the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Rom, 8:21) Above all, the resurrection of Christ at Easter means victory over the grave and the power of darkness, sin, and evil in our world. None of them has power over us again because of our faith in the risen Christ. We should, therefore, overcome all dangers and fears in our daily lives and refuse to be worried and terrified of any evil spirit or force. For the light of the risen Christ has scattered the darkness of our world and he has also given us power and authority over the forces of sin and evil.

These reasons explain why Easter and the Easter season is the greatest and most important feast and season in the life of the Church and its members. It is because Christ has risen from the dead and lives among us that we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song of joy. I therefore, take this opportunity to wish all the members of the Church and our fellow Gambians at home and abroad a very peaceful, enjoyable, uplifting, and meaningful Easter celebration. At the same time, I encourage you to share your joy with others by explaining to them the hope that you bear in the resurrection of Christ. (1Pet. 3:15) For if Christ has not risen from the dead, then as St. Paul said in 1Cor. 15:14, “our preaching would be in vain and your faith will also be in vain.”  May the risen Christ grant you and your families and friends his peace, love, freedom, and blessings in abundance. 

Your Servant in Christ,

+Most Rev. Dr. Gabriel Mendy, C.S.Sp.

Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Banjul, The Gambia