Bishop offers message of hope at Easter Sunday Mass

GARY – Bishop Robert J. McClory celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ with parishioners of the Cathedral of the Holy Angels on Easter Sunday, assuring them that God will never stop loving his faithful people, as evidenced by the sacrifice of his only son on the cross, and that we are called to share that love and lead others to everlasting life with the Lord.

“The joy of Easter is that we Christians can see a plateau and a horizon that this world cannot see. That there is a limitless horizon of God’s love for us,” the bishop said. “That he calls us to take the hand of Jesus and to allow him to draw us closer to himself and to be renewed in his love and to experience his mercy and to share that with others. To let people know (that) you may have been surrounded by all this Christian stuff, this Catholic stuff your whole life, but it’s all true.

“It’s true in my life, I’ve experienced it, I’ve tasted it, I know it,” added the bishop.

“As we come here on Easter Sunday,” Bishop McClory noted, “It’s (a) chance for us … to once again say, though I may have been surrounded by the faith my whole life, it’s not something that should be external to me, but there comes a point in time and indeed every day, where we say, ‘Yes, though that was passed on to me, I now freely accept and believe and I’m going to live this out.’”

While we may have been raised in the faith, added the bishop, “There comes a time when all of us should say, ‘I believe it, I love Jesus, he’s my Lord, I want to live in accord with his plan in my life.’”

Referring to the Gospel reading, the bishop noted how St. Peter “proudly, and strongly and boldly proclaims in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, what Jesus has done in his life, what Jesus has accomplished, and what it means for all of us.

“The core of the Gospel message is that from the beginning, God created all things and he loves us,” said the bishop, yet when God’s people turned away from him and went their own way, “God never stopped loving us, and said, ‘I’m going to call you back into a covenant relationship with me. I’m not going to stop loving you, and I’m going to show you through my commandments how you can and should live.’”

Yet the people did not live up to that covenant, noted Bishop McClory, so God sent prophets to remind them, and still they disobeyed God and they made false gods – but God still did not stop loving them.

While the people were trapped in a cycle of sin, “Ultimately, God sends his son, who does what we could never do. He lives the law perfectly, without sin, and  …  with his death for us makes up for any sin we could have ever committed, because through the blood of his cross, we can turn to God the Father and say, ‘Indeed I have sinned, but through the saving work of your son on the cross … and now that he is resurrected, I have faith and hope in him, and not only do I have the pathway for the forgiveness of sins, but everlasting life has opened up.’”

For Amelia Selio, of Gary, a parishioner at the cathedral since she came from Mexico 45 years ago, renewing her baptismal vows is her favorite part of the Easter Mass, along with “having the priest bless the people with holy water,” she said. “I had been sick and was finally able to return for Palm Sunday Mass. I’m glad to be back; I needed to come today and give thanks to God.”

Galen LaReau, of Munster, proclaimed the first Easter reading after requesting that honor at the cathedral, which is his parish. “It’s empowering. By using my voice, it empowers me to be more spiritual,” he said. “I like the entirety of the Easter Mass, the overall atmosphere (of the victory of Christ over death).”

Soloist Joseph Cunningham, choir member and a former cantor at the cathedral, sang an old spiritual, “Wade in the Water,” following the communion service. “While I sang, I thought about the slaves who drowned themselves, which is what that song is about. There’s a story to be told (in that song),” he said. “The singing and the fact that the bishop sprinkled the Holy Water on me – I feel refreshed and blessed.”

Usher Lorena Eggleston, a retired sewing teacher from Gary, said she helps out at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels “whenever I can, with whatever they need,” and finds the entire Triduum inspiring. “When I feel sick and need encouragement, this Mass explains (suffering) to me. It is the way I learn acceptance,” she said.

“You might be experiencing darkness,” Bishop McClory told the congregation, “but this light of Christ can change your life, can soften your heart, (you) can be renewed,” as with the catechumens who were baptized on Holy Saturday and said, “I want to be baptized, I want Jesus, I want to be joined to his love.”