By Bishop Gerald Barnes
“This is the first day of the rest of your life.”
One of the most popular sayings for moments of change and transition in our lives is also one that we might think of in the context of our faith this time of year.
We are in the Season of Easter. Christ is Risen. Alleluiah! Alleluiah!
The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus frees us from sin and offers the promise of eternal life with Him. Indeed, for God’s people, Easter is surely the beginning of “the rest of our life” in the Kingdom.
Easter calls us to new beginnings; a chance to take some of the personal revelations we might have had through our Lenten Journey and perhaps live a little differently, a little closer to our God. Some of us may look at these moments of renewal and change ambivalently. Can I really do it? Am I willing to risk the vulnerability of that comes with true hope, believing things can be different? Why not stick with what is familiar to me?
Inside of us, we yearn for a renewal that brings us closer to God, that will mend relationships we have with others, that will make us the best person we can be. We want this, but at the same time we are afraid sometimes to hope for it.
Don’t be afraid! The Gospel calls us always to look to the horizon and where God is calling us to go. Siempre Adelante. Always Forward! That has become the theme of our Diocese this year.
It’s especially relevant to the 7,567 youth and adults who will be Confirmed in our Diocese in the coming months. For the youth, it marks the conclusion of an important phase of their education in the faith. It may feel like an ending of sorts but, indeed, it is the first day of the rest of your life as a fully-initiated Roman Catholic. Now it’s time to go out as a Missionary Disciple, to share what you have learned and what the Lord Jesus represents to you as you encounter those in your communities and those on the margins of society. What a charge! What a mission!
For adults coming into full initiation in the Church, Confirmation may feel more like solidifying a renewal that you already embraced when you decided to become Catholic. We welcome you, who bring an energy, an inquisitiveness and an urgency to your faith that has an important impact on cradle Catholics.
In the many Confirmation liturgies that I will celebrate this year I give thanks to God for the precious responsibility He has given me in administering this Sacrament. It is a joyful time for the Confirmandi and their family and friends. It is a milestone to be celebrated, and a time to reflect on the journey in faith to that point.
At the same time, the life of our Church unfolds through its people – the Body of Christ. In that way, we understand our faith as an active, daily encounter with God that manifests in how we respond to others. This is how we are called to renew that promise every day. In faith, tomorrow (and every day after that) is, indeed, the first day of the rest of your life.
My prayers and blessings to all for a joyous Easter Season.