Proclaim the joy of Easter by your life


By Barb Arland-Fye

Father Joseph Phung remembers Easter Sunday in 1975, when he and his little sister found themselves on a gravel road in a remote area in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. The siblings and the rest of their family had fled separately from the communists on Good Friday. His ship landed late at night on Holy Saturday and he and his sister were bused inland.

“Exhausted after the long trip without water and food and due to the dark, we stayed where we were dropped off and fell to sleep right away,” Father Phung said in a homily he gave on Easter Sunday. The diocesan priest serves parishes in Pella and Oskaloosa. “Anxious and worried, we started talking with the local people and happily learned that our two aunts were living not very far from there. We found them and stayed with them. A couple of weeks later, we reunited with our mother and other siblings.”

What he took away from that experience is this lasting impression: “In our daily life, Easter means experiencing the power of Jesus changing a great tragedy in our lives into a glorious new beginning. That experience of Jesus’ resurrection had transformed his disciples from sad and despairing men and women into people radiant with joy and courage.”


Father Phung’s inspiring homily (you can read it on this page) shares something in common with Pope Francis’ “Urbi et Orbi” message on Easter Sunday. “This is the amazing discovery of that Easter morning: the stone, the immense stone, was rolled away. The astonishment of the women is our astonishment as well: the tomb of Jesus is open and it is empty! From this, everything begins anew! A new path leads through that empty tomb: the path that none of us, but God alone, could open: the path of life in the midst of death, the path of peace in the midst of war, the path of reconciliation in the midst of hatred, the path of fraternity in the midst of hostility.”

Jesus Christ is risen! That message, the gift of salvation, should generate joy in our hearts that inspires us to move the large stone away for others who are struggling to see the light of Christ in their lives. In his message to young people on the fifth anniversary of his apostolic exhortation, “Christus Vivit” (“Christ is Alive”), Pope Francis asks them to “make your voices heard! Proclaim not so much in words but by your life and your heart, the truth that Christ is alive! And in this way, help the whole Church to get up and set out ever anew to bring his message to the entire world” (March 25, 2024).

Whether young, middle-aged or senior citizens, each of us is called to proclaim “not so much in words” but by our life and our heart, “the truth that Christ is alive!” The steps on this path begin with prayer and continue with reception of the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist and participation in the community of faith through the liturgy. “Without the forgiveness of sins, there is no overcoming the barriers of prejudice, mutual recrimination, the presumption that we are always right and others wrong,” the Holy Father reminds us.

Father Phung has been moving away the large stone from the tomb since that arduous, anxious time as a refugee fleeing his homeland. Eventually, he immigrated to the United States and to the Diocese of Davenport, where he discerned his calling to the priesthood and was ordained 24 years ago at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. He proclaims the truth that Christ is alive in word and by his life as a priest.

May each of us in our own vocation to priesthood, the diaconate, religious life, marriage or single life, proclaim that Christ is alive in our thoughts, words and actions. Let us move the stone away from the tomb to expose the light of Christ to all who need it.

Barb Arland-Fye, Editor  

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