Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We will soon celebrate, once again, the great feast of Easter and begin a season of joy.
For two years now, our liturgical celebrations have been muted by the pandemic. Over the past years, we have witnessed serious illness and death, social unrest and the economic hardships faced by individuals, families, and communities here at home and throughout the world.
Many people in Australia and beyond are still suffering the loss of loved ones, unemployment, and fear and anxiety. We grieve that so many people in poorer countries have not been given access to vaccines. This global injustice is folly, as it not only damages the lives of so many children of God but makes more likely the rise of even more dangerous Covid variants.
Yet, there is hope. Christ is risen! He has liberated us and made a lasting peace and joy possible for our chaotic and troubled world.
Pope Francis often speaks of joy. With characteristic humour, the Pope says that Christians should not look like ‘sourpusses’ (literally “vinegar faces” in the original Spanish). We should rejoice in our freedom and remain confident in God’s love for us. The joy of Easter springs from our deep gratitude to God for his gentle and compassionate presence in our lives.
Recently we have seen natural disasters like the destructive floods in NSW and Queensland, the volcanic eruption in Tonga, and tragedies such as the pandemic and invasion of Ukraine. While these and other hardships persist, Easter celebrates what Pope Francis says so powerfully: “We are not loved after we are forgiven, we are forgiven because we are loved”.
As my fellow Franciscan, the medieval friar, Giovanni Giocondo, once put it: “The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see – and to see we have only to look!”
May this season of grace bring us such lasting joy. Please share this joy generously with others, especially those in the ‘shadows’ and on the margins of our society, during this blessed time and always!
Alleluia! Christ is risen!