My dear brothers and sisters,
Peace and Easter blessings be upon you.
The Lord appeared to His disciples after His resurrection and greeted them, saying, “Peace be to you.” Many times in sacred scripture our blessed Lord offers his peace. So it is in our lives, the Lord Jesus stands in our midst and says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27, NRSV)
The challenges experienced with the COVID-19 pandemic will be far reaching: the heavy toll of the illness itself on those who experience its effects, the loss of human lives, the suffering borne by families and communities, the heroic responses of those who provide essential services, and the dutiful acceptance of the routines put into daily practice to promote communal health and safety for the sake of others.
As we prepare to celebrate Easter, one might ask if this is the appropriate time in the midst of this global fear to proclaim the Good News that Jesus Christ is risen. Those who first witnessed the resurrection offer a response which is timely. The women in Matthew’s Gospel who go to the tomb are burdened with disappointment and grief having witnessed his sacrificial death. They are overcome with fear and in that precise moment, they encounter Jesus who says to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." (Mat 28:10, NRSV) Jesus ’response to the woman resounds for us today. As we face this pandemic, we are assured not to be afraid and we are called to proclaim Jesus as the Risen Lord in whom our faith is placed.
At the beginning of the celebration of the Easter Vigil Mass, the light of the Paschal Candle is processed into a darkened Church which then quickly becomes bathed in light as the candles people hold are lit from that one flame. This year, we were not able to experience this with the measures of self-isolation. However, we must not forget this Easter symbol of the risen Christ. Even without this personal experience, the Paschal Candle continues to represent the light of Christ which dispels the darkness and the resurrection of Christ which overcomes sin and death. Our belief in the resurrection is the light of faith which can bring joy and hope in the midst of despair.
This Easter will be for all of us an unsettling and challenging time to celebrate and witness to the joy and hope that is so central to this feast. However, I encourage you to recognize in these times the blessings, graces, and consolations of God which may have been hidden from view in the usual routines of life. With eyes of faith, we see our life experiences as occasions that can draw us closer to God. Sometimes it is clear to us how this happens, and at other moments we wonder how God could possibly use the particular circumstance of our life for His purpose. However, we know from the Saints that God uses these moments to reveal Himself to us.
The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day.” St. Gianna Molla
I encourage you to pray for the grace to see the Risen Christ in the current reality of your lives and to recognize His deep love for each one of us. We will see His presence more profoundly in our homes and our families, in our work and in our outreach to those in need.
This Easter, I invite us to rediscover the symbol and power of our faith as a light which can dispel the darkness that we presently experience. This is what we are called as Christians to proclaim and live.
As an Easter people, let us proclaim the Resurrected Christ knowing that He has brought forth life from death, light from darkness, and hope from despair. As Saint John Paul II says, “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
This Easter, in these unusual times, let us find within our faith the sustenance and resolve to proclaim, “He is risen.” And we rejoice saying, “Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.” May God bless you with abundant faith, serenity and joy this Easter.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers