2010 Easter Message - The Paschal Mystery in our lives.
I was privileged to spend two months of my sabbatical last year in the Holy Land. One month was in the walled city of Jerusalem itself at a centre called €œEcce Homo€ run by the Sisters of Zion.

Three of the very special places for me, and for us all as Christians, are Nazareth (the place of the Incarnation), Bethlehem (the Nativity) and Jerusalem (the place of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus).

Each of these sites has a special church. Even with a GPS I don'€™t think we could get much closer than these actual sites where the saving work of Jesus for us and our world took place.

From the roof top of '€œEcce Homo'€ I often looked out and prayed over Jerusalem and its people '€“ the Jews, Christians and Muslims. I would often look over at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Resurrection.

This special church was close enough for us to visit at various times of the month to reflect and pray there. One morning our group of thirty had the rare privilege of celebrating the Eucharist there, close to the site of the crucifixion of Jesus.

The place of Resurrection is also close by. It is so close that when Emperor Constantine built the first church, after his mother had discovered what we believe to be Jesus'€™ cross, it was able to encompass (as the present one does) both sacred sites.

This church is just so special because of where it stands and what ithonours '€“ the death and resurrection of our lovingSaviour and His Paschal Mystery which we celebrate in the rich Church'€™s Liturgy of Easter. The Paschal Mystery is at the core of our Christian Faith.

The point I want to make in this Easter message is that the two sites of the dying and rising of Jesus are not far apart. For Jesus they were close in space (perhaps just a stone'€™s throw away) and in time (just the three days).

It is important to remember that in our lives our dyings and risings are connected closely to each other. Our whole life is a continual succession of dying and rising. In the course of one day we can '€œdie'€ and '€œrise'€. There are times of course when the '€˜dying'€™ part is very prolonged and the suffering seems endless. Just as surely as the cross we experience is real, there will be a '€˜rising'€™ because of Jesus'€™ Paschal Mystery.

I would like to quote St Paul who had a deep love for and appreciation of Jesus and the Paschal Mystery - '€œBlessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.'€ (2Cor 1:3-4).

Through Paul'€™s own experience he is teaching us not only the value of the cross but encouraging us as he did to embrace it in our lives. Jesus will then give us consolation. In other words he will bring us through to peace and greater life. We in our turn then can use that consolation to help others who are going through difficult times.

We can do both of these things because Jesus is with us bringing us consolation as well as empowering us to offer that same help to others.

Jesus'€™ death and resurrection were not far apart. Ours (our many small and bigger deaths & resurrections) likewise are unquestionably connected. What is more important is that Jesus and His big Paschal Mystery are never apart from us and all that we are called to do.

This is what we celebrate at Easter and at each Mass. Happy Easter. Happy Passover.

Bp Justin Bianchini