Camera captures the back and profile of Bishop John Arnold as he enters Salford Cathedral. He is wearing white vestments and his amaranth zucchetto

An Easter Message from Bishop John

Sunday 31st March 2024

May I begin by wishing you a very happy and blessed Easter. It’s a time of joy and a time of hope. It’s because Jesus has completed his earthly task and he’s risen from the dead. He is ready to return to his Father, his job complete. But if we put it back in the context of the time, it must have been a rather shocking and difficult time for the disciples.

They’ve been told several times by the Lord himself that he would be on trial, He would be put to death, and he’d rise again. But they haven’t understood. They really didn’t know what was going on. And so that first Easter for them must have been a real shock. There was all the despair of Judas and his suicide and Peter’s denial. And they’d lost their leader, their friend, the decision maker, what was going to go on? And then he’s back and they’ve got to get used to the idea. Wonderful that it is that Jesus has risen from the dead – his job complete – but their job goes on. He’s going to give them a mission. And the mission is of great importance and it’s going to take time, centuries to fulfill.

But it means for the disciples, they’re going to have to live with the difficulties of the Roman authorities, the Sadducees and the Pharisees disliking the new message of Christian hope, and they’re going to have to work very hard in travelling and preaching and building up that sense of Church.

If we translate that into the present day, let’s celebrate Easter – it’s a wonderful triumph of God’s work in our world through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection – but we’re faced with ongoing problems. We’ve got all the difficulties internationally, nationally, and locally in our diocese. We’ve got to look where the Gospel values need to be lived in a particularly careful way in our time. And I think we have to have that emphasis on hope and of peace building.

It’s only when we can find peace in our world that we can really value the dignity of the individuals, all our brothers and sisters, and we can work to make their lives better, sustainable in every way. But we can do that locally. We can look to see those people that God places in our lives each day and see how we may help them to show them kindness and care, to be aware of their difficulties and to help where we can.

So, let’s celebrate the feast of Easter. It is a blessed time. It’s a wonderful time of God’s triumph but it leaves us with plenty of challenges. But God says, “I’m with you. I’m going to give you the Spirit to guide you. And to strengthen you in all that you’re doing to fulfill the mission that you have and to meet the challenges that surround you.”

Let’s pray for our diocese. Let’s pray for each and every one of us as we try, with God’s help, to make the world a better place to help those in our diocese who are in need and to build that sense of faith and hope in our own lives.

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