Bishop Llanos’ Easter Message 2024

It would seem a strange thing to say but the world wants a different Jesus than the one whose Death and Resurrection we celebrate every year at Eastertime. It may be that we let Easter pass us by without reflecting or fully understanding its importance to humankind because he is not the Jesus, we think we need or should have. After all is said and done, we think we know what is best for us, what will set us free and where our happiness is to be found. Except, we have been trying our way of doing things for several millennia and accomplished very little for our efforts at true freedom, happiness, and a lasting peace.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead would have little significance had he not first been put to death by execution on the cross. To grasp the meaning of the Resurrection and what we celebrate at Eastertime we must therefore understand the meaning of the cross. The cross is the place where our own will encounters God’s will for us and the battle for true freedom ensues. Liberation comes, salvation comes, when we surrender our will to God’s will on the Cross of conversion. Resurrection is the fruit of that surrender. It was pride and rebellion that brought sin and death into the world. It is humility and a loving surrender to God’s will that liberates us from them. The consequences of sin and death are not only temporal but eternal. Whilst sin and the darkness of unfettered passions bring temporary pleasure, their consequences are eternal. By eternal we mean now and forever. It is from these consequences that Jesus has saved us in his Death and Resurrection. Had Jesus not risen from the dead then we could not share in his Divinity, death would have had the final word. Because we seldom see beyond our own horizon of self-gratification and self-preservation, it is hard for us in a world of so many distractions to think about eternity and its consequences. Therefore, the joy of the Resurrection, our Easter Joy is lost to many of us.

The Jesus of Easter Joy is the one who prayed “yet not as I will but as you will” and willingly suffered for that surrender and for our sake. We now live in the grace of Easter; we are the beneficiaries of that first Easter through baptism, but do we fully appreciate the glory of the resurrection to which we are called? Unfortunately, as with Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, we are not looking for a crucified king but a worldly king who is disposed to our own will, gives us what we want and exercises his power on our behalf; one who gives us a comfortable Christian life with little or no suffering. How many of us by nature would consider it something joyful to share in the cross of Jesus in order to share in his Resurrection, yet that is what God asks of us.

The joy of the resurrection far outweighs any suffering through which we must pass to get there. The Saints tell us that we would not even be able to recall or remember the suffering so great would be the joy. This is because, through and in Jesus, we would, in the words of Scripture, be a new creation. To participate in Easter Joy, we must be willing to feely undertake, with the grace of Jesus’ Resurrection, the offer of our minds and hearts to God in full surrender and obedience so that we would learn how to love as he loves us. The triumph of Easter is the triumph of a love that transforms from within all of God’s people. It is the exercise of power for and with others, not over them. It is setting hearts and minds free to triumph over the darkness in one’s life. It is to know the truth and welcome it with joy and understanding. It is to serve others, spending oneself generously and without reserve. It is to be a child of God, made so by Jesus’ Death and Resurrection and our conversion to his will.

Easter is the triumphal moment for all of humanity when sin and eternal death were conquered and destroyed on the cross and Jesus rose again on Easter Sunday. May we all participate in this Easter Grace and the joy that comes with it.

Wishing you all the blessings of Easter.