The following is a message from Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron to the people of the Archdiocese of Detroit:
“We are witnesses of all that he did.”
In the Gospel reading on this joyous Easter Sunday, we hear an account of the first witnesses to the Resurrection we celebrate today. Mary of Magdala discovers the stone removed from the entrance to the tomb and, without hesitation, shares this news with others. Simon Peter and another disciple arrive, see burial cloths discarded in the tomb, and they believe.
In our first reading, Peter affirms that the apostles were witnesses “of all that [Christ] did,” including his death and Resurrection. To the apostles, being a “witness” was not simply a role to fill but an identity to embrace. They were “the witnesses chosen by God in advance” who were “commissioned … to preach to the people and testify” to Christ’s dying and rising. From the very beginning God intended for his Gospel — the Good News of Christ’s victory over sin and death — to be transmitted by the words, actions, and joy of his witnesses.
Our local Church in southeast Michigan is committed to this evangelizing mission that we have inherited from the apostles. All the faithful, as members of the Body of Christ, share in this call to witness what we know to others so that they, too, may receive forgiveness of their sins, be reconciled with the Father, and receive the fullness of life that is found in Christ.
Our mission to unleash the Gospel represents our active cooperation with God’s plan; it is the response he expects from each of us, clergy, religious and laity: to become witnesses to the Resurrection. How can we not share the great gift of salvation with our family, friends, and neighbors? Jesus suffered, died, and rose from the dead so that everyone may be reconciled with the Father and have eternal life.
Easter is not intended to be a private celebration. This day is about witnessing to the world the victory Christ won for us. The Greek word for Gospel is euangelion, which was used in the ancient world to signal a great military victory. Today, we take on our inheritance as witnesses to Christ who do not hesitate to joyfully declare euangelion to everyone around us: Christ is Risen! He has risen indeed. Alleluia!
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit