Three Easter messages of Hope

London:  The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, delivered the Easter Sunday service from his kitchen in London.

“At this very difficult time in the life of the nation and of the world, our prayers today are especially with those who are suffering, with those who care for them, and for all who mourn….

“Imagination, ambition, hope are some of the foods that nourish us in dark times. They can be mere escapism, or they can give us a settled direction and intention. That sense of a new direction and intention of hope that carries us forward is likely to be mocked by many. Cynicism tells us that all will go on as before. Despair tells us that the road is coming to an end. Fear tells us to look after ourselves. Imaginative hope gives us a level-headed courage and a grand ambition when it is based on what we know to be true….

“To this day. The resurrection of Jesus is the solid foundation of all hope for a better world… The resurrection changes us not just individually but is the fuel for hope-filled ambition and Imagination that turns dreams into reality. Hope, faith and love are the key Christian distinctives.”

“So many people right across the country are anxious about employment, anxious about food, isolated from loved ones and feel that the future looks dark. People right across the globe feel the same uncertainty, fear, despair and isolation. We are not alone….

“Once this epidemic is conquered here and elsewhere, we cannot be content to go back to what was before, as if all was normal. There needs to be a resurrection of our common life, a new normal, something that links to the old but is different and more beautiful. We must dream it, build it, make it, grasp it”

Windsor Castle: The Queen, head of the Church of England, issued a recorded Easter message:

“This year, Easter will be different for many of us, but by keeping apart we keep others safe. But Easter isn’t cancelled; indeed, we need Easter as much as ever. The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose, and we can all take heart from this. We know that Coronavirus will not overcome us. As dark as death can be — particularly for those suffering with grief — light and life are greater. May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future.

I wish everyone of all faiths and denominations a blessed Easter.”

Rome: The Pope would normally deliver his Easter sermon to tens of thousands of people in St Peter’s Square. But this year, the square is empty.  On Easter Sunday, with a handful of people attending a service in St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis called for solidarity to confront the coronavirus pandemic. He said that Europe had ‘risen again’ after the second world war, with a spirit of solidarity.  “This is not a time for self-centeredness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing between persons.” He called on people to pray for the sick, the dead, and the elderly self isolating alone. Additionally, he called for sanctions relief, debt forgiveness and cease-fires around the world.

At the Easter vigil on Saturday night, millions joined through digital platforms to hear and see the Pope:  “This year ..we are experiencing, more than ever, the great silence of Holy Saturday. We can imagine ourselves in the position of the women on that day. They, like us, had before their eyes the drama of suffering, of an unexpected tragedy that happened all too suddenly. They had seen death and it weighed on their hearts. Pain was mixed with fear: would they suffer the same fate as the Master? Then too there was fear about the future and all that would need to be rebuilt. A painful memory, a hope cut short. For them, as for us, it was the darkest hour.

“Yet in this situation the women did not allow themselves to be paralyzed. They did not give in to the gloom of sorrow and regret, they did not morosely close in on themselves, or flee from reality. They were doing something simple yet extraordinary: preparing at home the spices to anoint the body of Jesus. They did not stop loving; in the darkness of their hearts, they lit a flame of mercy.

“Our Lady spent that Saturday, the day that would be dedicated to her, in prayer and hope. She responded to sorrow with trust in the Lord.

“Unbeknownst to these women, they were making preparations, in the darkness of that Sabbath, for “the dawn of the first day of the week”, the day that would change history. Jesus, like a seed buried in the ground, was about to make new life blossom in the world; and these women, by prayer and love, were helping to make that hope flower. How many people, in these sad days, have done and are still doing what those women did, sowing seeds of hope! With small gestures of care, affection and prayer.”