Easter is a wonderful time of year. Nature, reflects the transformation, from darkness into light. New green leaves, spring blossoms and brighter days lift our mood and awakens within us a deep sense of hope. Easter 2023 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. This wonderful historical peace process, has been achieved by patience, listening and reconciliation. I pray that this peace, will continue on our island, because, together we are stronger.
Easter embraces new opportunity, with a confidence that boldly rejoices, “All is possible, no matter what”, a sentiment mentioned on Palm Sunday by Pope Francis, when he encouraged Christians, “Be confident, joyful and grateful, we are not alone, God is very near.”
Easter is a time of hope and new life, an opportunity to begin again in a new way. The Angel said to the wounded followers of Jesus “Why Look among the living for the dead”. Easter reminds us in a very powerful way that we belong to a place that is so much bigger than whatever situation we may find ourselves in. That place is about gentleness, hope, compassion and love. That sacred place is told through the eyes of faith. Faith is a necessary and wonderful gift. Faith will carry us up any mountain, no matter how overwhelming the climb maybe. Faith brings with it a sense of perspective and a deep confidence, that no matter what “All will be well”. Easter is about new possibilities and opportunities. Easter is rich in gifts and blessings. There is no recession in the Lords love. Where the shadows of bereavement, unemployment, sickness prevail the Easter message contains a dawn that promises brighter days ahead.
Mountains play a huge part in our faith story. Mountains in the Old Testament were sacred places where the creator often communicated to holy people and revealed how best to live life by giving Moses the Ten Commandments. Jesus himself loved Mountains, he often spent long periods of time on the Mountain, where he felt close to his father, consumed by the beauty and peace that is given from a mountain view. Jesus Sermon on the Mount contains the essential ingredients that make us a holy people called to do great things in all our lives. It was on a mountain where the first followers of Christ witnessed him transfigured. The mountain was also the place where the first followers of Jesus were commissioned to spread good news, that all who believe in Christ will be surrounded by his love and peace.
These days are very difficult for so many people. Mountains of many challenges including sickness, uncertainty, anxiety and fear have to be climbed by too many in all our localities. This climb often is not a voluntary one. Gentle and prosperous pathways have been replaced by rugged mountains where all the resilience and energy of the human spirit is necessary in order to take that important, one step at a time. For this very reason we must take on board the free gift that is life giving contained in the message of this important story of hope we celebrate. Jesus Christ is Risen. His Mountain of suffering and pain has been transformed to the calm and peace that is so often associated with the views that come from a mountain top. Hope is witnessed in so many places familiar to us all. Loving Parents, enthusiastic young people, our wise elders and countless volunteers responding generously to so many needs. The significant contribution to the Trocaire national appeal, highlights generosity and selflessness in a time of recession.
Reading a newspaper these days can be very draining. Namely war in Ukraine and the Refugee crisis; Climate Change; Cost of Living increase, and Homelessness. It is a dismal litany, and we can’t afford to ignore the very serious threat and challenge posed by all of them. It’s hard to be cheerful when so many people in our One World are suffering so much. But the story doesn’t end there, as I was reminded recently by a poem called simply ‘Easter’, it is by the Jesuit priest and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. One verse in particular captured my imagination. It reads:
“Beauty now for ashes wear, perfumes for the garb of woe,
Chaplets for dishevelled hair, dances for sad footsteps slow;
Open wide your hearts that they, let in joy this Easter Day.”
He is making the point that there is light shining in the darkness. That light shines from the Risen Christ, and (as St. John put it) the darkness has not and cannot ever overcome it. From the sheer evil of the Crucifixion came the eternal Hope of Resurrection. From the chaos of night – there dawned a new day. So, my prayer this Easter is for a foretaste of that Resurrection: in the world; in our nation; and in the lives of everyone we know and love as we turn our eyes upon Jesus: because He is Risen indeed. Alleluia!
Love overcame, emerging from a cold tomb
All the truth, majesty and creativity of a living God
Transforming a broken heart
Making a quiet return, in a still and sorrowful garden
The grave stone rolled away, to release redemptive love
Jesus resurrected and restored
Comforts a weeping woman
Speaks with travellers on a journey
Meets with his faithful friends
And they bow down before Christ alive and acknowledged that the saviour has arrived
That the word of God has come alive
And that the extraordinary transformation of heaven and earth is complet