Easter Message 2014
Sydney, 14 April 2014.
Easter 2014 Message of His Excellency Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay to the Children of the Maronite Church in Australia
Christ is risen, He is truly risen!
Beloved Brothers and Sisters of our Eparchy,
It is with great joy that, for the first time I celebrate Easter with you, as bishop of this blessed Eparchy, I announce to you and with you the tidings: “Christ is risen! Truly, He is risen!” And we bear witness to this. How I would love for this great and good news, which fulfils the good news of the birth of the Lord Jesus, to be a source of joy in the heart of every human being, to reach every home and every family, to find its way into each theatre of war and strife, wherever there is enmity and hatred, to those suffering from illness, and to the imprisoned and the wretched, so that it may be for all of them the balm of consolation and an oasis of hope, the very field of joy and happiness. The feast of the Resurrection means that we are no longer in the grip of evil and slavery to sin. Rather, love has triumphed over hatred, good over evil, forgiveness over enmity, and compassion has touched the stoniest heart … A new future, abundant in life and good hope, has opened for each person and for humanity.
When we celebrate today the feast of the Resurrection, we reflect on how God offers himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, for the life of the world. It is the feast of our Christian faith, and the Way to new life. It is the feast of feasts, the great salvific event which was symbolised in diverse manners in the Old Testament, and was fulfilled in the New Testament.
The Old Testament told of the “Passover”, by which is meant “transition”, the change from one state or condition into a different state. The Jewish people experienced this on the day when, by the power of God Almighty, they followed the prophet Moses and crossed the Red Sea. Theirs was a crossing from the state of slavery in the land of Egypt into one of freedom in the Promised Land (Exodus 12). This is the first Passover.
In the New Testament, the Passover was charged with new meaning as the feast of the crossing of the Lord Jesus from this world over to God the Father through his suffering, his death on the Cross and his glorious Resurrection (John 13:1). It is, therefore, also the crossing of God’s people from slavery to sin and evil over to grace and freedom in Christ (Rom 6:3 -11). It is a transition in which we shed our old self, corrupted by sin, and put on the new self, the self of holiness and righteousness, according to St. Paul (Eph 4: 22-24). The feast of Easter is also a crossing from a state of sadness to one of joy, from death to life, from the Cross and the tomb over to resurrection and glory. This is the feast of our new Passover.
Today we celebrate the feast of Easter, chanting in the Holy Mass:
We remember your death, O Lord.
We profess your resurrection.
We await your second coming. …
May your mercy rest upon us.
This is a three-level celebration, leading us first to the memory of Our Lord’s death on the Cross to free humanity from sin and death. We affirm our faith as believers, that Jesus Christ rose from the dead; and that we may die with him to sin and evil to rise to a new life, for we await his second coming with the hope of eternal life through his mercy.
The salvific meaning of the mystery of Easter is manifested in the Holy Mass where we journey from Holy Thursday, when Our Lord instituted the Mysteries of the Eucharist and the Priesthood, and then to Good Friday, when He suffered and died on the Cross for the redemption of the human race, arriving today at the Resurrection, the feast of the conquest over death and the feast of our new life, constantly renewed in and with Jesus.
At the celebration of Holy Easter this year, we raise our prayers to God, the source of all joy, goodness and holiness. We beseech the intercession of the Blessed Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, who will be canonised Saints for the Universal Church next Sunday, the 27th of April. We seek through them an increase of vocations in the Church, praying the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers for his harvest, according to the example of these two great saints.
In this year, we celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the death of Saint Rafqa. We ask the Holy Spirit, who inspires the journey of the Church and the faithful, to animate the sons and daughters of the Maronite Church throughout the whole world, and especially here in Australia, to follow in Saint Rafqa’s footsteps by remaining steadfast in faith and love of the Lord until the end, so that holiness may grow in our Church for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
Another source of great joy for us in this year is the visit of His Beatitude and Eminence Mar Bechara Boutros Cardinal Rai, to our Maronite Eparchy, between the 16th and the 30th of November 2014. This will be His Beatitude’s first visit to our Eparchy. I invite you all to begin working from right now, as one hand and one heart, so that his Beatitude’s visit may be a success, meeting the hopes and aspirations of all Maronites in this beloved homeland Australia.
Dear friends, this is my first message to you in this holy season of Easter. It is the message of joy, love and peace which is borne to us by Our Lord Jesus who is risen from the tomb, and who has changed our death to life. We ask him today to pour his graces upon you all and upon this blessed Eparchy, and to grant his peace to the whole world, especially the Middle East, and to light the paths of Christians throughout the whole world, so that they may truly become the people of the resurrection and the children of life.
“Christ is risen, He is truly risen!
– Maronite Bishop of Australia