Easter Message from Archbishop Auza
As we prepare prayerfully to enter into the events of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, Christians do so conscious that Jesus’ triumph is the most powerful message of hope in all of history.
In Jesus’ resurrection after having been publicly framed and executed, we see that evil doesn’t have the last word.
Suffering doesn’t have the last word.
Death doesn’t even have the last word.
“O Death, where is your victory?,” St. Paul would exclaim to the Corinthians.
“O Death, where is your sting?”
Christians believe that if God on Easter Sunday brought the greatest good out of the greatest evil on Good Friday, then he can indeed bring good out of every evil.
And that provides hope even in the midst of times in which there remains great evil, enormous suffering across the globe and the death of so many innocents.
How can we not be touched by the witness of the faith of those Christians in Egypt who on Palm Sunday endured abominable terrorist bombings during their liturgies?
Carrying Palm Branches, an ancient image of the victory of martyrs, they entered fully into what the Church celebrates each liturgy and marks solemnly during these days: Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.
“With great pride” the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church said in a statement it offered them to God, confident that the slain were now “offering their prayers to the Just Judge who sees, hears and writes a book of remembrance.”
The terrorist attacks not only did not rob them of their faith, but strengthened their faith, hope and love.
Likewise how can we not be moved by the witness of the heroic faith of the Christians in the Middle East who, in the midst of war and the aftermath of chemical bombings, will convene for the celebration of these sacred mysteries, courageously and devotedly entrusting themselves to the One whose triumph over death gives them hope in this world and for the next?
And how can we not be inspired by the faith of so many migrants and refugees who, like Abraham leaving their own Ur of the Chaldeans, make a journey of faith home to a place they believe God will show them?
Often their journeys are filled with terrible tragedies, but they persevere on their own, very real, Way of the Cross, seeking to get up and continue the journey just like Jesus rose repeatedly on the Via Crucis.
It’s tempting as we confront the various nightmares of human suffering occurring in the world — human trafficking, the killing of the innocent, the negligence of so many to the cries of the poor, the belligerency of so many leaders — for us naively to hope that this evil will just all disappear like waking up from a bad dream.
But that wasn’t the way Jesus approached the evil of his day.
As we will mark during these days, he became a victim of that evil in its ugliest form.
But that wasn’t the end of the story.
He rose on the third day with his mortal wounds immortally transfigured, overcoming hatred with love, darkness with light, death with life, bad news with the greatest news of all time.
This is a great mystery, which we ponder more profoundly in these days.
And it’s an extraordinary cause of joy that Jesus wants us to experience and to share.
Please know of my prayers and the prayers of our team at the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the UN for you and your loved ones during these days.
Please join us in praying for all of those who will be celebrating these days in the midst of war, suffering and hardship across the world.
And please don’t forget to pray for Pope Francis and for us, as we continue to strive to bring the reasons for our hope to all the nations.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Permanent Observer of the Holy See Mission to the United Nations
(Archbishop Auza is a Filipino from Bohol.)