This is an Easter message from Townsville Bishop Timothy Harris.
At Easter, we celebrate Jesus risen from the dead and we sing with gusto “Alleluia”.
Our faith tells us that it happened and yet do our lives truly reflect that it happened?
I mean, because Jesus rose from the dead, death does not have the last word in His life and ours.
But we don’t have to wait until we are dead to experience what resurrection actually means or can mean in the here and now.
There is no need for believers to live their lives on earth as if they are already dead. Christians are supposed to reflect on the outside what they believe on the inside.
If Jesus’ death and resurrection is ever going to change us then we need to live our lives accordingly.
His resurrection continually reminds us that there is much more to each of us than meets the eye and that our souls are immortal.
Our bodies will decay or turn to dust, but our souls will forever live with God.
We therefore must live with a purpose in this life so that we can prepare for the new life to come.
To live without purpose is to live a “rudderless” existence.
We will inevitably run into an obstacle that can sink us and none of us wants to end up at the bottom.
As I reflect upon the Church I serve at present, now as a Bishop, I cannot help but admit to you that I have felt at times as if the good boat has been sailing on a sea of “trouble”.
It is as if God in Jesus Christ is saying to the Church “give me back the steering wheel” or at least focus on me for I am the one who saves.
Our sea of trouble needs to be navigated and our Church must help us all to focus on the end goal, which is Christ Himself.
He is the one who goes on ahead of us and says, “Come follow me”.
As a person of faith, I like you have had challenges that have come my way.
No one can escape these challenges in one form or another but what must keep us focussed is the promise of a glorious future precisely because our Lord charts a way forward if we remain close to Him.
What are the obstacles in our lives to believing in this kind of future?
What is holding us back?
Why isn’t our “Alleluia” at Easter like the kind of roar that is heard by a crowd at a football match?
Such is the cheer that has the ability to capture on the outside what we feel on the inside.
The time is right if not overdue for the Church, which is all of us, to go back to the basics of our faith and focus on Jesus.
We must “live him and breathe him” in season and out of season because if we really know him, we will never be alone or at sea.
Once we authentically know him, which is different to knowing about him, the joy in our lives that may have been there before will come alive again.
It’s the kind of joy required in our Easter Alleluias this Easter – a joy in the Gospel that Pope Francis has written so powerfully in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.
In that Exhortation, the Pope has reminded us that our joy in believing is a powerful force, impelling us to want to go out and share the good news with others.
So as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s resurrection, his victory on behalf of us all, over death, let us renew that joy which surely lies at the heart of the Christian message with a cry that sums up the whole of that message – the whole of our lives – and that response must be: “Alleluia”.
Even our Holy and wounded Roman Catholic Church as an institution is crying with the rest of us.
Our collective “Alleluia” will put past wrongs right.