On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning … and saw the stone removed from the tomb. — John 20:1

My dear family in Christ:

Imagine what must have gone through Mary Magdalene’s mind when she came to the open tomb on that first Easter Sunday morning. Heartbroken that Jesus had died and had been buried, devastated that He had been rejected by many who had previously praised Him, feeling lost because her teacher would no longer be able to guide her and the other disciples — all this grief and sorrow filling her heart is now multiplied because the tomb was open. Who would do such a thing? Where was His body? How could this happen? Sorrow was piled on top of sorrow. I believe many of us have had the same experience as Mary, not outside an empty tomb, but in situations in our lives when sorrow seems to be added upon sorrow. Times when we believed things could not become worse for us and then they became worse. These times may be the result of illness, loss of work, loss of a loved one and any number of situations that cause our sorrow to grow deeper and our pain to become worse.

Like Mary Magdelene, we wonder how and why this has happened to us. We stand at our own “open tombs” wondering “what next?” It is in these moments that we need to remember that the open tomb was not the end of the story for Mary Magdelene, and it is not the end of the story for us. Because, as we stand there wondering, “What’s next?” we hear the incredible message, “He is not here, but He has been raised” (Luke 24:6). The resurrection of Jesus shattered Mary’s grief and can do the same for us. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that sin and death itself have been conquered. With His victory over the grave Christ has transformed the lives of all those who believe in Him and promised to remain with (them) “always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). This means that no matter what “empty tomb” we may be facing in our lives, the risen Christ is with us. He lives to heal our wounds, forgive our sins, nourish us with His body and blood, inspire us through the spirit, teach us through His Church, and inspire us through His saints. He lives so that we will recall that the struggles and burdens of this world will not destroy those who believe in Him. He lives so that we all remember that we are called to life eternal and will enjoy this blessed gift if we but cling to Him.

And so, on this joyful Easter Sunday, let us bring all of our burdens to the one who suffered, died, was buried and rose triumphant so that our “empty tombs” no longer be a sign of increased sorrow but the promise of everlasting glory.

On behalf of the entire diocesan staff, I pray that the new life of the risen Christ blesses our diocese and all the people of Vermont. Christ is risen! Alleluia! He is truly risen! Alleluia!

In Christ the Victorious High Priest,

Msgr. John J. McDermott

Diocesan Administrator