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He Has Risen (Mark 16:6)

EASTER MESSAGE 2018 BY MOST REV. ROBERT RIVAS O.P., ARCHBISHOP OF CASTRIES
Image of Archbishop Robert Rivas

IT’S Easter. Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of the Lord. It is a time for celebrating life. It is the greatest of all the Christian Festivities. The resurrection made credible all that Jesus did and taught. The very mysteries of the Passion and Death of Christ were interpreted and understood in the light of the Resurrection. The resurrection gives meaning to our faith and it also gives us hope. The Risen Lord is our hope of eternal life.

The Resurrection comes after the Passion and Death of Christ. No Cross, no Crown. The Passion and Death exemplify the obedience and fidelity of Christ to the bitter end. In the Passion story Jesus confronts the world of darkness and all the craftiness of the Evil One. Satan commanded everyone in his league: Religious Leaders, the Romans, Judas and the betrayal, the rejections, humiliations and the ultimate condemnation and crucifixion of the innocent Christ. He did everything to break the will of Christ but the greater the suffering the greater was Christ’s love and obedience. The greater the challenges the greater was Christ’s humility in mounting the Cross. In the battle of light over darkness the light won.

The battle between light and darkness continues in the world today. There seems to be more death and darkness than reverence for and protection of life. The reporting of violent crime, terrorism and the destruction of the most innocent of lives find a lead place daily in the News. We live in a world of darkness where many choose to walk in the darkness rather than the light. The culture of death prevails and the Evil One is still at large. This is a challenge for all those whose lives have been radically transformed by Christ through baptism. Through baptism we put on Christ and become a people of light. Just as the light conquered the darkness on Calvary so too must the light of Christians conquer the darkness of our world today. Our light must shine in all the places of sin, corruption, violence, destruction of human life and the environment. The victory has already been won but we must be brave in our mission of transforming the darkness into light.

Celebrating Easter is celebrating the victory of light over darkness and life over death. Easter is not a time to be lukewarm but a time to recharge our batteries and be energized in the way we live our faith. We are a resurrection people and, therefore, our faith must be alive. How could a lukewarm faith address the darkness around us? Make this Easter different by living your faith seriously.

There was an astronaut who became a convert to Catholicism. Just months after his conversion he was selected to go on a Space Mission. As the time drew near he realized that he would be away for several months and he said to himself how am I going to live without the Eucharist for three months or more? The Eucharist had become central to his life and the practice of his faith. After discussing the matter with his parish priest, he was given permission to take the consecrated host with him on his Space Mission. He then received official clearance to take Jesus in the Eucharist with him into space. Each Sunday he prayed and received the Eucharist. On the day of his first space walk he prepared himself spiritually by receiving the Eucharist and in company with Jesus he joined his companions on his mission. This is what it means to take one’s faith seriously. Indeed, this is how the light of the Christian conquers the darkness.

This year the Gospel for the Easter Vigil is taken from St. Mark’s Gospel, chapter 16 verses 1-7. It is interesting to notice that the Easter Message is announced by a divine messenger to the women, Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of James and Salome, in the tomb. “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified:”, the Messenger said, “he has risen, he is not here. See, here is the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6). “He has risen”, this is the powerful word of life and resurrection. The mystery is revealed. Death is swallowed up in victory. Death where is your victory? Death where is your sting? Jesus Christ has risen, Alleluia!

The tomb of darkness is filled with light. Mary of Magdala and Mary, the mother of James and Salome, are brought into that bright light. This is not just sunlight in the tomb. This is the light that enlightens faith. This is the light that penetrates the darkness of unbelief. This is the light that reveals the truth. The women can see with their eyes what they heard from the Messenger: “he is not here. See, here is the place where they laid him.” Seeing led them to believing. The Resurrection is the core of our faith. This is what makes Easter. After Passion and Death comes Resurrection.

As believers we need to stand in solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters and, indeed, anyone experiencing persecution for their faith or because of ethnic cleansing at the hands of extremist groups with ideologies that lead to religious or any other form of intolerance. Jesus continues to suffer and die with his persecuted brothers and sisters all over the world today. Where there is passion and death there is hope of resurrection. When we see nations standing for justice, opening doors and making a home for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants we know that the seeds of hope and resurrection are being planted in the midst of a culture of death and darkness and the message of Easter continues to be announced from the tomb.

The sad news of the fire that destroyed the Msgr. Patrick Anthony Folk Research Centre is a blow to our nation in Holy Week. Valuable documents may never be recovered but as a people we must not allow the darkness to enshroud us. This must become an opportunity for a rebirth of culture in Saint Lucia and a greater appreciation for the work of our artistes, folklorists and all those who contribute to culture and the arts in every little village, community and throughout our nation. Out of death and destruction will come resurrection. The light will conquer the darkness.

Let us celebrate Easter with renewed faith, deeper respect for life, greater love for one another and a brighter hope for tomorrow. Christ has risen. Death has no power over him anymore. ALLELUIA! HAPPY EASTER.

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