Pastoral Letter for Easter
Through Death to Life

It may seem frivolous to begin this pastoral letter writing about the Easter egg. What does an egg have to do with Easter? At first sight, it has no life. But a new life can burst out from within, breaking out of the confinement of the shell. The body of Jesus remained lifeless for three days in the tomb and on the third day came forth, gloriously alive.

In the plant world, a seed does not seem to have life, but from a tiny seed grows a big tree. Plants and animals reproduce life through seeds or eggs, but each plant or animal eventually dies.

Man seems to face the same fate. Individuals grow up, become adults, grow old and die. But in the face of death, we feel that it is not natural. On the contrary, we feel that it is unnatural and refuse to accept death. Our faith guarantees a justification for this feeling.

God is the source of life. The life of a person is to share in God¡¦s life. We are his breath and by breathing on us, he makes us alive in order to establish an eternal covenant with us. From the moment we appear before him, we never disappear.

Death does not belong in the plan of God. It was sin that brought forth death. But death cannot destroy the plan of God. The Son of God conquered death by choosing to die a painful and humiliating death. He truly died, his body was laid, lifeless, in a tomb, but he also truly rose.

In the Easter Hymn (Sequence) we sing: ¡§Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous: the Prince of Life, who died.¡¨ He actually conquered death by dying and ¡§reigns immortal¡¨.

Death itself has no value. It can be light, as light as a feather, or weighty as a mountain. The death of Christ is an act of obedience to the Father and love for people. It is obedience and love that has redeemed sinful humankind.
From now on we can say, ¡§Life is transformed, not destroyed¡¨. Jesus says, ¡§I am the resurrection and the life ... he who believes in me shall never die.¡¨

Dear brothers and sisters, you will have no difficulty understanding why I focus on the meaning of death at Easter. The Holy Father conferred a red vestment on me to remind me to defend the Church even to the point of shedding blood.

The meditation above may be a bit tailor-made for myself ... but it is actually the message of Easter for everybody. The Easter egg reminds us of this. What Jesus says, ¡§Unless a seed...¡¨ also reminds us of this. May you all draw new strength from this meditation and enter a new life!

Your bishop,
+ Joseph Cardinal Zen
Easter 2006