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Bishop's Column

Bishop Barbarito Column

May 17, 2024

The Celebration of Easter Never Ends

The season of Easter is concluding as quickly as it commenced early this year. The Solemnity of Pentecost concludes the season which marks the birth of the Church when the Lord sent down upon the apostles the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through His Resurrection and Ascension, the Lord fulfills His promise and is always present among us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost is the culmination of Easter, for the Holy Spirit continues the mission of Christ. Pentecost is not the end of what Christ has accomplished for us but merely the beginning. Just as the apostles were able to go forth and accomplish miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit, so does the Spirit work in our lives each day. From a small group of followers of Jesus in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit has enabled the Church to grow to what it is today.

So many times in the Gospels, the Lord tells His disciples it is better for Him to leave them in His Ascension. He does not say this because He wants them to be without Him, but because the Holy Spirit would deepen His presence among them and us. While we do not see the Lord as His disciples did after His Resurrection and before His Ascension, He is more present to us through the Holy Spirit than He was to them during that time.

The upcoming celebrations of the Church after Easter remind us of what God has done for us through Christ’s Resurrection and through the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Solemnities of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Body and Blood of Christ, which we will celebrate on the Sundays after Pentecost, sum up God’s presence among us, which has been revealed to us and confirmed in the Resurrection and Pentecost.

Our relationship with God is a real one. When He created us, He did so out of complete love, wishing to give us the gift of His love. God is a communion of love, which is the reality of the Trinity. For all of eternity, God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit since He is always giving Himself away in love. The Persons of the Trinity live in love, and it is that love which is the joy of God.

On Trinity Sunday, we celebrate that we are able to enter into a real relationship with God and share in the mystery of His love. That mystery is not a puzzle but something we stand in awe before. When the Father sent His Son into the world and the Son gave His life so we could possess the Holy Spirit, God made concrete the reality of our relationship to Him. He revealed Himself completely to us as He truly is and invited us to share in the eternal exchange of love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it well when it refers to God’s innermost life and love. It states, “God’s very being is love. By sending His only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed His innermost secret: God Himself is an external exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and He has destined us to share in that exchange” (221). God reveals Himself to us as He is so we can have a real relationship with Him and actually enter His life. Pope Francis constantly reminds us of the intimate relationship God wants us to have with Him, especially as He extends His mercy to us.

The extent to which we enter into God’s life is celebrated in the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, which has a special significance for us this year during the National Eucharist Revival. This solemnity reminds us of the presence of Christ “par excellence” in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the real presence of Christ among us to be eaten as our daily bread and to be adored as true God. No greater gift nor seal of His love could God give us than the reality of His Son in the Eucharist. God loves us so much that He literally gives us Himself, so His life and His Being becomes ours. In the Eucharist, we truly participate in the exchange of love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as we enter into communion with Christ.

As we celebrate the conclusion and culmination of Easter in the subsequent Solemnities of the Holy Trinity and the Body and Blood of Christ, we truly enter into God’s life and the real relationship He offers to us. May the Holy Spirit, always present in and among us, help us to know that God’s presence and His love are more real to us than anything else. That is why God sent His beloved Son into the world, who gave us His life and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through the Eucharist, the center of the Church born on Pentecost, we enter most deeply into the reality of God’s presence among us. Easter is not coming to a close, it is only beginning. The celebration of Easter never ends!

Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito