Easter message of hope

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2021 - 12:00am

Last year, the Easter message of Pope Francis was very clear. He told the story of the women who went to the tomb of Jesus and found an empty grave. They stood before the tomb. Pope Francis narrates the story: “And then they met Jesus, the giver of all hope, who confirms the message and says: ‘Do not be afraid.’ Do not be afraid, do not yield to fear. This is the message of hope. It is addressed to us today.

“Today we acquire a fundamental right that can never be taken away from us: the right to hope. It is a new and living hope that comes from God. It is not mere optimism, it is not a pat on the back or an empty word of encouragement, with a passing smile. No. It is a gift from heaven, which we could not have earned on our own.”

I also found some quotes that best suit our need for hope and courage during these times.

“Christ’s empty grave is proof that no matter how bad things may seem, there is always hope for a new day. Rejoice in Easter.”

“May God revive all your dreams and hopes this Easter. May the Spirit of Easter fill your hearts with joy and gladness and give you a reason to hold on even when times are tough.”

“As you celebrate Easter think of all those who are not as fortunate as yourself and in any way that you can, make someone else’s life better.”

“This Easter take time to remember all those who sacrificially serve others, the doctors and nurses, volunteers and nurses and all others who never count the costs of blessing others. Say a special prayer for them and ask God to bless them and their loved ones.”

Last year, this Easter message was given at the beginning of the pandemic. It was given to a world that was full of fear, but also full of hope that “normal” days would be back soon.

After a year, the pandemic has not disappeared. In the Philippines the situation is as bad as it has ever been. With so many friends and relatives succumbing to COVID 19, it is easy to give up hope.

Here is what Pope Francis said: “…we have kept repeating ‘all will be well,’ clinging to the beauty of our humanity and allowing words of encouragement to rise from our hearts. But as the days go by and fears grow, even the boldest hope can dissipate. Jesus’ hope is different. He plants in our hearts the conviction that God is able to make everything work unto good, because even from the grave he brings life.”

Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. It is one of the most important festivals of the Christian world. In the different Orthodox churches, Easter Sunday is considered as the most important event in the Christian calendar – even more important than Christmas Day. His resurrection established Jesus as the Son of God and is considered as a proof that God will righteously judge the world. During this period of lockdown and, coincidentally, Holy Week, I devoted much of my free time to reading books.

I highly recommend a book which I have read and reread this Holy Week. They have served as my inspiration and sources for meditation.

Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith by Robert Barron. He writes of the “…defining elements of Catholicism – from sacraments, worship and prayer to Mary, the apostles and saints, to grace, salvation, heaven and hell…” There is a chapter on saints and a beautiful write-up on St. Therese of Lisieux.

Barron wrote that she was a very simple woman who is also one of the most extraordinary saints in the Catholic Church. Barron wrote: “Therese was a cloistered Carmelite nun who died at the age of 24 and who at her death was known only to her family and her fellow sisters in the convent. One of her sisters, in fact, wondered what they could possibly write about her in the obituary that would circulate among the other French Carmelites. Yet within a few years of her death Therese had a worldwide reputation, and within decades of her passing she was declared a saint and eventually a doctor of the church… How do we begin to explain this? We have to start with the spiritual autobiography called The Story of a Soul which Therese wrote at the prompting of her superior in the last years of her life… Her (St. Therese) approach involved a willingness to do simple and ordinary things out of great love: little acts of kindness, small sacrifices graciously accepted, putting up with annoying people. One of the most entertaining and spiritually illuminating sections of The Story of a Soul is Therese’s account of her infinitely patient dealings with a cranky old nun to whom she had been assigned as a helper. Every kindness of Therese was met with correction and signs of displeasure on the part of the old lady, but still the younger nun persisted in love.”

Today, as we face the uncertainties of this period of the pandemic, let us take comfort in the message of hope of Pope Francis and the life of courage and love in the little things in life as did the Little Flower of Christ, St. Therese.

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Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

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