On the night of the Easter Vigil, the deacon approaches the bishop following the reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans.   The deacon faces the bishop and announces to him: “Most Reverend Father, I bring you a message of great joy, the message of Alleluia.”   At this point, all stand and the “Alleluia,” which we have not heard since before Ash Wednesday, is sung.  Christ is risen!  Alleluia!

To whom do we proclaim the “message of great joy,” the song of “Alleluia”?   Do our lives even speak to others that we believe in the passage from death to life?  St. Peter teaches us, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (I Peter 3:15).   Do we know that message of hope and are we courageous enough to proclaim it?  

We believe that Christ came to deliver us from sin and death.   He came to show us an empty tomb.  He also came to show us a cross that leads to that empty tomb.   He asked us to identify with that cross.   The reason for our hope is clear.   If we have died to self, we must then strive to live in Christ.

What “message of great joy” do we bring?   A faith that witnesses to the reality of truth, regardless of the consequences; a hope that gives us the courage to live our rejection of sin; a love that forgets the self and lives in Christ and for others.   As the deacon brought me the “message of great joy,” may we all announce to others the joy of our Christian faith, the reason for our hope.   To all of you, I extend blessings for a joyful Easter!