During his homily at Easter Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Bishop Daniel Thomas, apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Cleveland, told the congregation that the resurrection, which is “the very essence of our faith,” has been depicted a number of times in paintings.
“Many famous artists capture the profound mystery of our faith that we celebrate today,” he said. Angels are included in some paintings, but “It is the rare artist who depicts Easter without the risen Christ,” the bishop said.
His favorite Easter painting was created in 1898 by a Swiss painter named Eugene Burnand – and it does not include the risen Lord.
“There is no need to see Jesus. Our belief is that he has risen. It is the very essence of our faith – even though we’ve never seen it with our physical eyes, we believe he has risen. We see with the eyes of our hearts, minds and souls. We’re invited to see and to renew our belief in the risen Lord through renewal of our baptismal promises.”
Titled “The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection,” Burnand’s painting shows the oldest and youngest the disciples as they hurry toward Christ’s tomb on Easter morning.
“Peter, who is somewhat older, is a bit behind. His eyes are wide. He has one hand over his heart and he is pointing with one finger,” Bishop Thomas said. John’s eyes look anxious and he has his hands folded. “It is enough to see the faces of the apostles as they run to the light. There is no need to see Jesus,” he added.
The joyful hymns, alleluia, smells of flowers cascading around the altar and the words from the Easter Gospel all reinforce Christ’s resurrection from the dead, he added.
He said if Christ is not raised on Easter, “our faith is empty. Today we come full of light, joy and holy expectation. We will meet the former occupant of the tomb in a new way today. The risen Lord welcomes all who are here. He wants us to believe in resurrection. The tomb is empty. I believe,” Bishop Thomas said.
Also at the Mass, four new members of the Catholic faith were confirmed by Bishop Thomas and they received their first Communion. The newest Catholics professed their faith and the rest of the congregation was invited to renew their baptismal promises.
Easter is a celebration of victory: of light over darkness, good over evil, he added.
The Easter season continues for 50 days, through Pentecost, which occurs on June 4.