Easter Pastoral Letter 2006

Through Death to Life

It may not seem very serious to start with the Easter egg in writing this Pastoral Letter. What has an egg to do with Easter? At first sight an egg has no life. But a new life can burst out from within, breaking the confinement of the shell. The body of Jesus remained lifeless three days in the tomb and on the third day he came forth gloriously alive.

In the vegetative world a seed does not seem to have life but from a tiny seed grows a big tree. The plant and animal propagate their life through the form of a seed or an egg but the individual plant or animal will die eventually.

Man seems to face the same fate. An individual person grows up, becomes an adult, gets old and dies. But in face of death, we feel that it is not natural. On the contrary we feel that it is unnatural, we refuse to accept death. Our faith guarantees that this feeling is justified.

God is the source of life. The life of man is to share His life. We are His breath and by breathing on us He makes us alive in order to establish an eternal covenant with us. The moment we appear before Him we shall never be disappear.

Death does not belong to 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 accepting to die, a painful and humiliating death. He truly died. He was laid lifeless in the tomb.

But he also truly rose again.

The Easter Hymn (Sequence) sings, “Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous: the Prince of life, who died,” He actually conquered death by dying, “reigns immortal”.

Death itself has no value. It can be light as a feather or weighty as the mountain. The death of Christ is an act of obedience to the Father and love for man. It is obedience and love that has redeemed sinful mankind.

From now on we can say, “Life is transformed, not destroyed”. Jesus says, “I am the life and the resurrection……he who believes in me shall never die”. Dear brothers and sisters, you will have no difficulty to understand why I stress on the meaning of death at Easter. The Holy Father conferred on me a red vestment 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
Cardinal Joseph ZEN, SDB
2006 Easter

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