Archbishop's Easter Message 2022
Rising in the promise of new life
It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark,
when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb (Jn 20:1).
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, some may ask what Easter means in times such as these. We have been through a lot these past two years due to the pandemic. Many are still coming to terms with the loss of their loved ones, while others are struggling to get back on their feet financially. The threat of an expanding war in Ukraine is looming over the world and we continue to be assailed with news of persecution against minorities in many parts of the world. Death has cast its shadow over us in unexpected ways. Can faith still sustain us in the face of such challenges?
So many people have carried the burden of the cross – in their sufferings, losses and injustices. Yet, the Cross is the symbol of our hope, life and promise. The paradox of the Cross is both its death and promise of salvation.
The Gospel speaks of the bewilderment and the disillusion of the disciples as they were confronted with an empty tomb. At the heart of the Easter message is the summons to a new future against the background of entrenched hopelessness. Easter is about new beginnings. As with Mary Magdala and the disciples, who were emboldened to move from the shadows of crucifixion into the light of the resurrection, we too are moving from the winter of the pandemic to the spring of endemicity. However, we must re-open our churches responsibly. We must be constantly aware that the virus and its many variants are very much with us. We must protect the most vulnerable by protecting ourselves as well.
Just as the early Church looked at Easter as a time of hope and renewed beginnings, let us make this our new start. Let us reclaim the new life that Jesus is offering us through His resurrection.
With the reopening of our churches for public worship, many who have been away for too long will return in search of Jesus in the church, but may instead find it empty and void of what they thirst for. It is incumbent on us – the clergy, religious and also the laity, to make the church a place where people can meet and experience the risen Lord. We must recognise, too, that such an experience is not only available within the walls of the church. We must not be an inward-looking and maintenance-focused people. Rather, we must be willing to be mission-oriented, serving people where they are, in our parishes through liturgy and sacraments, but also through pastoral closeness to those wandering beyond the pews.
We as Catholics are called to respond with compassion, solidarity and caring for those who are suffering and most vulnerable. This is a true sign of hope, of the Easter faith which caused the disciples not to proclaim the tragedy of Jesus’ death but rather, to share His resurrection, the promise of eternal life, of joy and confidence in the Holy Spirit.
It is Easter which explains our destiny and gives our lives purpose and meaning, even in the midst of any struggles we face. So many in our world need to know this now. Especially in this time when faith and religious practices are so often being pushed aside by so many in our society for so many varied reasons. When laws are passed which violate our religious freedom or the tenets of our faith, or even when we fall into the unfortunate habit of prioritising and practising our faith only when it is convenient in our busy, and sometimes complicated, lives.
May we be strengthened to walk the journey of faith and may we be leaven to the Kingdom through our active discipleship, witness and engagement in the world. Let us find Christ among the poor, the vulnerable and the wounded. Let us have the courage of Mary and be truly Easter men and women, bringing to life the Good News in our Church and in our world. What would we do without faith!
May the peace of the Risen Christ rest in your hearts throughout this Easter Season, and may you be filled with joy and hope.
My prayers remain with all of you. A happy and blessed Easter to you and your loved ones!
Most Reverend Julian Leow Beng Kim, D.D.
Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur