Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli
After Jesus died on the cross, his followers placed his lifeless body in the grave. Jesus truly experienced death, as everyone does, as the separation of body and soul. Divine, he was truly human, like us in all things but sin.
At the moment of death, his soul joined others in the realm of the dead. As we say in the Apostles’ Creed, “he descended into Hell.” This is not the hell of the damned, but the limbo where all the just before Christ’s coming awaited the redemption. Jesus descends there as Savior.
By his cross, he has conquered sin and death itself. He enters limbo to empty it of its tenants and leads them to heaven. Jesus bears the banner of the Resurrection. His death and resurrection are one complete event. He bursts through Satan’s gate. Death has no hold over us anymore.
At Jesus’ entrance to the netherworld, the door is blown off its hinges and one demon lies pinned helplessly beneath it, while two others flee in terror. Satan is defeated. Evil is not the last word.
Jesus’ sudden presence cracks the ceiling and wall. The glory of Christ floods the darkness with light. Darkness is no more. We live now as children of the light.
Christ extends his right hand to Abraham, the father of all who believe. Abraham clasps it with both hands. Thus, Christ draws him up from the realm of the dead to new life, along with Adam, Eve, Moses, David, and all believers.
This is the very center of the fresco: Christ, bearing the marks of the crucifixion and clothed with garments of light, and Abraham, followed by all who believe. Here our eyes rest. Here our minds are flooded with light and our hearts rejoice. For this is the Easter message.
Like Abraham, we are joined to Christ through baptism and faith. We are rescued from sin and death. Already, this day, we are taken up into the new life of heaven and on our way to glory.
To all the faithful, religious, deacons, priests of our diocese and to their families, especially the sick and suffering, I extend my prayers and best wishes for the peace and joy that the Risen Lord brings to us.