Easter Message 2016
Sydney, 27 March 2016
Message of His Excellency Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay to the Faithful on the occasion of Easter 2016
“He is not here… He is Risen!” (Luke 24:6)
Beloved Brothers and Sisters,
Children of our Maronite Eparchy,
The truth of the Resurrection that was revealed by the angels on the morning of the third day to the Marys, and through them to the apostles and from them to all of us, is a truth that shines as clear as the sun. The Church is an oasis of hope and salvation for the world, based on this truth. The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead is the essence of our faith, and the source of our joy. It is the greatest event in human history. It is of everlasting importance to us. It is the cornerstone of the building of the Church. It constitutes the faith of its children. “And if Christ has not been raised,” Paul the Apostle writes, “then your faith is for nothing; you are still guilty of your sins” (1 Cor 15:17).
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Lk 24: 5) This quintessential and pivotal question was asked on Easter morning, and has echoed from generation to generation, carrying the good news of joy and peace of the Resurrection of our Lord. He is not here … death can no longer contain him and he cannot remain in the grave. He came to us and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of God the Father. He completed his journey on earth as a full human being, subjecting himself to the power of death and the grave! But through the power of a love stronger than death, he rose and triumphed over death. He is Risen … truly he is risen and his Resurrection has opened for us the path leading from earth to heaven and has lifted our humanity from death to life.
Our celebration of Easter this year occurs in the heart of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, announced by His Holiness Pope Francis as a starting point in the renewal of our faith through repentance. It calls for real openness to others. It is an open invitation to heed our marginalised brothers and sisters, the poor and the disadvantaged. Let us hasten to assist them, and to be for them oases of hope and charity bringing to them God’s mercy through Jesus Christ, who identifies himself with the poor and the sick, the persecuted and the stranger.
We, in our Eparchy, strive to live the joy of the Resurrection in our families and our parishes every day. We work together, armed with a strong will and determination to achieve our pastoral projects. We are serving the spiritual needs of our Maronite children, dispersed as they are all over this beloved country, Australia. We are establishing new parishes in new areas. Our pastoral work is complemented by our apostolic work through MaroniteCare, which is our Eparchial agency to support our Eparchy’s humanitarian projects, especially in the areas of marriage, the family, the elderly, drug addiction and the relief of refugees and the poor. In all these, we seek the inspiration of the Divine Providence and rely on your constant prayer, your loving cooperation and your generous support, as loyal children of St Maroun.
The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is bigger than any event, beyond any celebration, and more than just a memory, it is the spring of new life for each one of us, and the source of hope, converting the journey from mortality to immortality, a goal beyond the reach of death.
Led by the light of the Resurrection, we beseech our Lord Jesus, to illuminate the darkened minds of those individuals who plot terror, murder and war, especially in the long-suffering Middle East. May they heed the voice of their conscience, and immediately stop the war, so that the journey towards peace may commence. Let the persecution of Christians cease, so that those who suffer be shown mercy, and the oppressed find compassion. May the light of the Resurrection shine on the entire world so that peace may reign, and real joy replace sadness and gloom.
For you all, I pray on this glorious feast, and with you, I glorify the Risen Lord. I kneel down and worship his eternal presence with us in the Eucharist. May our celebration of Easter this year be an incentive to renew the spiritual life of our families, and a new beginning to the practice of mercy in our lives. May this Easter radiate new hope in our church that we may all rejoice, crying out with one voice saying:
Christ is risen! Truly he is risen!
– Maronite Bishop of Australia