Easter Message 2024
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Easter Message 2024

Easter Sunday, 31 March 2024

Message of Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay on the occasion of The Feast of the Resurrection, Easter 2024


Dearly Beloved, Sons and Daughters of our Maronite Eparchy;

“Jesus came, although the doors were shut” (John 20:26)

Each year, the celebration of the Glorious Resurrection of Christ brings us spiritual joy, both as individuals and as the Church. It fills our hearts with happiness, for we firmly believe that Christ is risen, and finally conquered sin, evil, and death.

Our faith in the Resurrection opens our lives to receive the fruits of the Paschal Mystery. The most prominent of these fruits is that Christ, by His death, freed us from death, and by His Resurrection, freed us from sin and paved for us the way to new life. Through our repentance, He justified us, and in this way, the grace of God entered again into our hearts and lives. As St Paul says, “So by our baptism into his death we were buried with him, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too should begin living a new life.” (Romans 6:4).

From the event of the Resurrection to the event of the Ascension, the Lord Jesus chose to be reunited with His apostles and those whom He loved, to confirm their faith in His Resurrection, and to send them forth to evangelise.

John the Evangelist tells the story of Jesus’ encounter with the disciples, when they were gathered and hiding in fear of the Jews. The Lord Jesus Christ entered the room while the doors were shut, and He said to them, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so do I send you” (John 20:21).

After His Resurrection, Jesus appears to His disciples to also express His desire for them to go out and preach the Gospel of Life and the Kingdom of God. However, there is a clear contradiction; while the apostles had barred the doors in fear and confusion, Jesus revealed Himself in order to dispel their fear and instil courage and hope in their hearts. He commands them to open the doors and go forth into the world to proclaim, through the power of the Holy Spirit, repentance for sins, salvation of souls, and His true peace.

However, after the apostles had witnessed the death of Jesus on the Cross, intense sadness and pain had pierced their hearts, and great fear had invaded their lives. They did not know what to do or what would happen to them after the death of Jesus. So, they gathered in a hidden room and locked the doors. But the Lord Jesus Christ knew exactly where to find them and how to reach them to rescue them from their state of sadness and despair. By themselves, the apostles did not know what they wanted or what to do, but deep in their hearts, they had wished to see Jesus again. Yet, at the same time, they knew this was beyond human power and logic. However, “nothing is impossible for God.” (Matthew 19:26)
For Jesus to seek them out and come to them while they were in this state of sadness, fear, and despair is a sign of hope and the key to new life and the beginning of evangelisation.

Dearly Beloved,

It is when the doors are shut in our faces and we do not know how to open them, and when we are in a state of fear and we do not know to respond, that we try to distance ourselves and seek a safe place. It is then that we fully realise that closed doors, fear, and confusion cannot stop the Lord Jesus from seeking us out, reaching out to us in order to save us and to heal us with His overflowing love, granting us His compassion and peace, and opening before us the path of truth and life.

Today, as well, the Risen Christ enters our homes and hearts, even though the doors may sometimes be closed. He enters and He reconciles us with His Father and with one another, giving us joy, peace, and hope – gifts that we desperately need to be born anew and truly become sons and daughters of God in spirit and in truth.

In this year, the Year of Prayer as declared by Pope Francis, we pray with each other and for each other. We pray that the Lord will give us the strength to open closed doors in our lives, doors of mercy and reconciliation with others, accepting them as they are. We pray that the doors of peace be opened, and that wars cease, especially in the Holy Land and Ukraine. We pray for Lebanon and its suffering people, asking the Lord Jesus to appear to us today despite closed doors, hidden rooms, and fear for the future, saying: “Peace be with you, my peace I give you!” (John 14:27)

With the gift of peace that the Lord Jesus Christ grants us on this blessed feast, let us open the doors and go forth with the courage and joy of believers, proclaiming with one voice:

“Christ is Risen … He is truly Risen
And we are witnesses to that.”

+ Antoine-Charbel Tarabay
Maronite Bishop of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania