Easter Message 2020
Easter Sunday, 12 April 2020
Message of Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay on the occasion of Easter 2020
Be not afraid … He is risen!
Beloved Brothers and Sisters, Sons and Daughters of our Maronite Eparchy,
The celebration of the Feast of the Resurrection this year is different from any other year, with temporary measures which we were not expecting, and which we can never reconcile ourselves to. For the first time in modern history, we are celebrating Easter, the Resurrection of our Lord, without the presence and participation of believers in the parish churches.
It has been a new and strange experience having to close the doors of our churches and asking the faithful to follow the celebrations of this solemn feast from their homes on small screens or via social media. But this is all a part of the strict preventive measures called for by the government, to which we are committed, in order to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus.
Until recently, each of us had taken for granted the freedom to travel, work, leisure, social activity, and enjoying relationships with our family and friends. But the past weeks have changed these concepts, as if a person who had been living in a beautiful dream awoke and was surprised by a new reality, difficult to accept, in which there is great fear, unaccustomed restrictions, and the clouding of our vision because of this emerging global epidemic.
The experience of fear was deeply felt by the women on that morning of the third day, the Day of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead, victorious over sin and death. After the events of Good Friday, fear overcame the Apostles, and it even descended upon the hearts of women who came early to anoint Jesus’ body with spices, according to tradition. They were perturbed with this major question: “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the grave for us?”
The answer came from the Lord, when he sent his angel, who had moved the stone, and standing at the door of the grave said to them: “Be not afraid, I know that you are seeking Jesus who was crucified, but he is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.” (Matthew 28: 5-6)
The angel’s words removed any fear from the women’s hearts and restored to them that inner peace which they needed. They came to Jesus’ tomb to express their love and their faith in the One who died on the cross. They came with sadness and weeping, but they returned full of grace and joy, hastening to convey the great and good news to the Apostles: that he was not to be found there, but had risen from the dead, as he had said.
Today, we ask: Who will roll away the stone of the Coronavirus that has filled humanity with fear and agony? Who can restore to us the peace that we have lost as a result of this frightening pandemic? Who will comfort the sick and strengthen doctors, nurses and health professionals to follow their noble calling?
Before these questions, in the darkness of this period, the angel’s words echo deep within us: “He is not here …. He has risen,” and the light of the Resurrection illuminates the darkness, opening the way to a renewal of our faith, through a true conversion of the heart, repentance from sin and reconciliation with God and neighbour.
This year, Easter arrives at just the right time to help us to overcome fear and anxiety, and begins within us that journey by which we freely surrender ourselves to the will of the Lord, entrusting into His holy hands the futures of our families and our society, our country, and all the world. We believe that, only with Christ, we can reach the harbour of safety, for His holy hands steer the ship of our lives and are the sole source of every mercy, goodness and peace. We are certain that when we reflect on the Resurrection of the Lord with the eyes of faith, we can break down the barriers of fear that chain us, and conquer the despair that surrounds our world.
Amid their fear and confusion, the Angel of the Lord told the women who came to the tomb,“Do not be afraid … He is not here, He is risen!” (Mt 28:5-6).
We pray to the Lord on this glorious feast saying:
Amid fear and sadness, Risen Christ be our peace and our joy!
Amid weakness and struggle, Risen Christ be our power and our strength!
Amid sickness and death, Risen Christ be our healing and our life!
Amid the unknown future, Risen Christ be our hope and our way!
Amid our families, our communities, and our parishes, let us all proclaim, today and every day, with faith and joy:
“Christ is Risen … He is truly Risen
And we are witnesses to that.”
– Maronite Bishop of Australia