Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen And Heard (April 1, 2010)

By MOST REVEREND WILTON D. GREGORY | Published April 1, 2010  | En Español

This week in great metropolitan communities, in remote tropical locations, and in little rural villages throughout the world, Catholics will recall the events that mark our salvation. We will listen to the words of Sacred Scripture and follow the ritual traditions that are now almost two thousand years old that recall and renew the Mystery of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection for all of us in this year of 2010. We celebrate what began as the faith experience of a handful of believers.

The disciples that Jesus first selected had no great communication skills. They clearly lacked the sophisticated technology that we now take for granted. Many of them had previously already distinguished themselves as skeptics, braggarts and sinful and ambitious individuals. They were not a very impressive group of people. Yet this small cluster of men and women were able to bring their faith to the attention of the world in which they lived and eventually to invite others to come to faith in Christ as they did. They accomplished this unlikely feat without the assistance of sky-cams, the Internet, editorials in the local newspapers or press conferences. They simply reported the story of what Jesus had done for them, and then they witnessed to and validated their testimony with their very lives.

By all standards of the world then and now, when Christ entrusted the proclamation of this great mystery of redemption to his small band of frail comrades, the odds were clearly stacked against their success. But succeed they did and without the means of communication or public influence that we ourselves might employ as absolutely necessary to achieve the intention of the Lord Jesus: Go into the whole world and announce the good news (Mark 16:15).

This week some 20 centuries later, we are still ritually remembering events that took place in a remote part of the world and involved people who would hardly have merited very much public notice. Our Catholic faith is the result not so much human ingenuity as it is the grace of God himself. Those first disciples did not bring many skills to the task entrusted to them, but they opened their lives up to the power of God’s Holy Spirit and thereby achieved all that Christ wanted them to accomplish.

This Easter, thousands of people will embrace Catholicism and for the very same reasons that have convinced people in the past—the lived witness of other men and women of faith and the grace of the Holy Spirit. I want to thank all of the people in this local Church for bearing witness to their faith—as husbands and wives in the midst of a society that does not value permanence, fidelity or even the life-giving nature of marriage—as parents who struggle to impart values and faith into the lives of their children in spite of the constant barrage of negative images that flood into the homes and classrooms of our communities (often under the guise of freedom of the press)—as single men and women who live as complete and holy persons in defiance of the prevailing standards of our times—as priests, deacons and religious who remain faithful to promises made in our youth and fulfilled day in and day out (always at great personal cost) in order to bring Christ to the world through the ministries of the Church. It is this witness that convinces the world of the truth of Christ’s message of redemption and of his Presence in our midst.

I fully admit that the world for its part has found far too many examples of duplicity, betrayal and infidelity, and these do damage to the witness of faith that we seek to provide. These counter witnesses have weakened or destroyed the faith for so many others.

We need an Easter revelation at this time. However, Easter comes only after suffering, humiliation and death. And just when the darkness seems all encompassing, just when the future seems lost, just when the victory seems impossible—the Risen Christ shows himself fully alive and radiant with joy. Has it not always been thus and will it not be true for us as well! That’s what Catholics the world over will celebrate once again in a few days.

Happy Easter, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.