A Test of Faith

Early on Sunday morning, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb and found the stone had been rolled back. She peered in and, as her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she saw it was empty. She was weeping. This Easter we, like Mary, are peering into the darkened tomb. The darkness we are experiencing is the death and destruction in Gaza.

Thousands have been killed and people are on the edge of starvation. Mary asks the angels in white: Where is the Lord? We are asking, in this time of great sadness: Where are you, Lord? Where is our hope? Surely this Easter isn’t the time to cry Alleluia and sing songs of praise. But just at that moment, like Mary, we turn and see Jesus. He is standing with us and he says our name. We, like Mary — say Rab-boni-, teacher.

Abbot Nikodemus Schnabel (of Jerusalem’s Dormition Abbey) reminds us that Easter is an important test of faith for all Christians ‘because it is the key moment to know if we really trust in God and if we really believe what we celebrate. After the catastrophe, are we waiting for Easter? Do we truly believe in redemption?’ And he added: ‘As a rational citizen of this world, I can only see war, suffering, hate, violence. But as a man of faith, I trust that my God can redeem, can save this world, can heal, and can create new life. Forgiveness. Mercy. That’s what we celebrate in Holy Week and at Easter. I hope for all Christians that there will be a new beginning and new hope, new life.’

Last week, Pope Francis wrote a letter to the people of the Holy Land, in which he said:

In these bleak times, when it seems that the dark clouds of Good Friday hover over your land, and all too many parts of our world are scarred by the pointless folly of war — which is always and for everyone a bitter defeat — you are lamps shining in the night, seeds of goodness in a land rent asunder by conflict.

More than ever we affirm that our hope is in the risen Christ, that Jesus is Saviour and has conquered death. As we begin our celebration of Easter, let us affirm that Jesus is our peace. We know that it is the Lord who sets the human heart free from hatred, violence and the spirit of revenge.

Father Giovanni and I wish you every blessing for Easter. Thank you, to all those who have helped in any way to enable us all to celebrate these past days with joy and solemnity. May the Risen Christ fill your minds and hearts with wisdom, love, joy and courage, that you may know him in the breaking of bread and follow him in his risen life.

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest