Archbishop Robert Rivas Says In Message.
THE following message has been released by the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Robert Rivas on the occasion of this year’s celebration of Easter:
“My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; God is rich in Mercy, Ephesians 2:4. Celebrating Easter in an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy is a cause for great joy. Mercy opens doors, breaks through barriers, liberates and redeems. In celebrating the resurrection of Christ this Easter, St. Luke is our storyteller. The first amazing thing that he recounts is that the enormous stone that was placed at the entrance to the tomb where Jesus was buried was rolled away on Easter morning. The closed tomb was a symbol of death, decay and darkness. The open tomb becomes a symbol of light and life. God raised Jesus from the dead and in His great love and mercy He opened the door of life to us. The tomb will no longer be a place of captivity but a place of passage where death closes one door but resurrection opens the door to life. Christ, our hope has risen. The Door of Life is open and will never be shut again.
“In the Year of Mercy the Church has opened the Door of Mercy to sinners and pilgrims seeking God’s mercy. All are called to conversion and renewal. The time for mercy has come. Easter is the celebration of life and resurrection. When Christ broke through the barrier of death the last enemy was conquered. Creation was redeemed at its core and all things were made new. Jesus opened the Door of Life. The key He used was the Cross and this will also be our key for all time. Death has no power over Christ anymore. He has opened the tomb for us to look inside. ‘Why look among the dead for someone who is alive?’ (Luke 24:5). Looking into the empty tomb fixes our gaze on the deeper mystery of life, death and resurrection. For us death remains as an uncomfortable companion of life but it does not have the same grip upon us anymore. Death where is your sting? Christ has conquered death and our hope of the resurrection changes everything.
“Looking through the Door of Life is a resurrection experience. The tomb is empty. Life has conquered death. Jesus is alive. In a resurrection experience faith comes alive. Doubt and incredulity give way to hope, amazement and joy. St. Luke continues to be our storyteller. The disciples are incredulous. They fail, at first, to take the report of the women, who had been to the tomb, seriously. Then Peter ‘went running to the tomb. He bent down and saw the binding cloths but nothing else; he then went back home, amazed at what had happened’ (Luke 24:12). He bent down and saw the binding cloths but nothing else.
‘Nothing else’ means that the tomb was empty. The women had the angels to instruct them and help them to understand what clearly is a great mystery of faith. All Peter had was the empty tomb with the binding cloths and nothing else. For Luke ‘nothing else’ meant Jesus was not there. This was a place of death but Jesus was alive; he had risen. It takes faith and humility to see ‘nothing else’. In his heart Peter knew that Jesus had risen and was alive and he went home amazed at what had happened. This was Peter’s resurrection experience. Luke chose his words well to let us know that without faith we cannot begin to fathom the mystery. The empty tomb is a sign but faith helps us to see more and to penetrate the mystery.
“This Easter Jesus opens the Door of Life to us, the door that was closed by the terrifying hand of death. Yet there are many things that still stifle our lives and threaten to keep us in the tomb, closed in our dark world of despair, emptiness and resentment. Some of our choices remain death rather than life choices exemplified in the destruction of the environment, disregard for human life and dignity or violence of any kind. At times we may find ourselves obsessed by envy, jealousy and competition plunged in a world of individualism, mistrust and dissatisfaction. Sometimes we may prefer to remain in the tomb, blind and wretched, angry and sorry for ourselves. However, Jesus didn’t die to leave us in the tomb. He died to free us from slavery to sin and all the things that entomb us. He came to set captives free and to liberate us from our bondage. The Door of Life is the door of hope and Easter opens that door of hope for us. Christ our hope has risen. He has conquered death; never to die again. Through faith and baptism we can now share in His resurrection, Alleluia.
“The Year of Mercy provides us with many opportunities to come out of the tomb of selfishness and greed. It provides us with opportunities for overcoming resentment, rash judgement and condemnation of others. Pope Francis appeals to those involved in corruption, dishonesty, drugs, human trafficking and any form of violence to change their behaviour and strive for a radical conversion. Jesus has opened the Door of Life to us but we can shut it by our choices.
“Easter this year will be celebrated in a world that is in disarray. Everywhere there is violence and wherever violence strikes, whether it happens in Paris, Brussels, Mexico, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Yemen, Iraq, Syria or Saint Lucia, innocent people are made to suffer. While terrorist violence destroys human life with no respect or regard for life or human dignity, suicide, which is a form of self-inflicted violence, is on the increase in Saint Lucia.
“We look for hope but our vision is blurred by the continued destruction of human life and, indeed, the environment. During Holy Week we heard the Passion story recounted twice first on Palm Sunday and then on Good Friday. In it we see how the innocent Son of God, Jesus the Anointed One, is made to suffer and is crucified. In so much of the violence today innocent people are dying. It makes no sense. Where are our values? Where is our respect for life?
“This Easter Jesus opens the Door of Life for us. Our true hope lies in walking through that Door of Life in a spirit of conversion and with hearts of mercy. Without mercy the slaying will continue and the culture of death will prevail. Mercy heals, forgives and reconciles especially in cases where someone does not deserve it. Seeking revenge or retaliation only increases the spiral of violence. We need to be people of mercy who act mercifully towards others. Mercy opens the Door of Life to us. This Easter the door is open wide to us. No one is excluded.
“Happy Easter, Alleluia!”