Christianity stands or falls by Easter

The risen Christ is depicted in the painting "Resurrection" by 15th-century Italian master Andrea Mantegna. Easter, the chief feast in the liturgical calendars of all Christian churches, commemorates Christ's resurrection from the dead. Easter is April 16 this year. (CNS/Bridgeman Images) Editors: This image is made available for one-time editorial use online and in print through June 25, 2017. No use is permitted after June 25, 2017.

An Easter message from Bishop Patrick Dunn, the publisher of NZ Catholic.

The whole of Christianity stands or falls by the Easter mystery. St Paul is very clear: if Christ is not risen, it’s all a waste of time.

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Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn

I recently read an atheist commenting in the New Zealand Herald that he had “never understood religion”. It made me in turn realise that I have “never understood atheism”.

It has always seemed to me to be such a bizarre faith position to adopt. I guess it is prompted by our experience of the extreme finality of death. But it also involves believing that our vast, beautiful and intricately ordered cosmos somehow “just randomly happened”. By contrast, I love the line from Gerard Manley Hopkins: “Our world is charged with the grandeur of God.”

Death does seem final, but repeatedly in nature we see the signs of new life springing forth where initially we saw only death. St Paul, and Jesus himself, both used the image of the seed.

At this time try to read again the Gospel accounts of those Easter days: the mystery of the empty tomb, the initial despair of the disciples, and then the utter transformation of fearful followers after the Easter encounters with One they now firmly believed was truly risen.

We can be sure that the Judean and Roman authorities would have left no stone unturned [literally] to try to find the missing body, but all to no avail.

St John Chrysostom in a beautiful 4th century Easter homily sums up our ancient Faith:

Poor death, where is your sting? Christ steps out of the tomb, and you are reduced to nothing.

Christ rises, and the angels are wild with delight.

Christ rises, and life is set free.

Oh, yes, for he broke from the tomb like a flower, a beautiful fruit;

The first fruit of those already gone.

All glory be his, all success and power, now and always.

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