Easter Joy of the Christian
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is difficult to be a Christian in the world today. We are living in a time where there is a sense of hopelessness; in a world that seems so divided, where people are lacking meaning, purpose and direction in life. Many no longer know what they are living for and why they are living at all. We no longer believe in life after death, or the next world. We view the world with much scepticism and cynicism. We have given up on the institutions of marriage, family, the government and even religious institutions themselves! Such is the state of disillusionment and confusion brought about by relativism and materialism. In a world that has increasingly banished God, the balm for pain and suffering in this life is substituted by momentary relief in material comforts and distractions from endless fads and pursuits. Life for many is simply about reaping and enjoying, without much thought of the after-life.
So, is there hope for the future of humanity? What is the basis for believing that there is a future for humanity?
For those of us who have encountered the Risen Lord, Easter is the basis of our hope. More than just giving hope to the hopeless in this life, the resurrection of our Lord gives us the confidence that death is not the last word, but eternal life. In the resurrection, death is overcome by death! Christ’s victory over sin and death reveals to us that sin can be overcome by love. This conviction should fill us with joy! As St Paul says, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:55-57)
Indeed, Christian hope is inextricably linked to the resurrection. Faith in the Risen Lord accounts for our confidence that everything as promised by God would be fulfilled, when there will be peace, love, harmony, freedom – and death and suffering will be no more. But Easter is not simply a proclamation that there is life after death. Rather, it means that life has begun here and now, whenever Christians live the resurrected life in Christ.
Hence, we celebrate Easter as an Alleluia people. Let us show ourselves to be people of joy simply because we are people of hope. If people have no joy, it is because they are pessimistic about the present and the future. If people give up struggling for the good of others and in building the kingdom of God’s love, it is because they have given up hope for a better future and tomorrow. But with Christ’s resurrection, the future is certain and has been anticipated in the resurrection of Christ. A Christian never gives up on sinners or in any difficult situation, challenge or trial because he or she knows that Christ, who has overcome all things including death, can do the same for us as well.
As an Easter people, it is not enough to proclaim to the world that Christ is risen. It is more important to live the resurrected life. This means allowing the power of the Risen Lord to live in and through us. Living the resurrected life is to live the spirit of Christ by imitating Him in life and in death. Whenever we work for justice, love and promote communion among peoples, we also help others to open themselves to the power of the Risen Lord in them. We need however to first experience the presence of the Risen Christ ourselves, through the celebration of the Word of God, the sacraments, the liturgy and especially in the Eucharist where Christ is present, par excellence. Without this love for the Lord in the Eucharist, we will lack the power of the Risen Lord to love and see others in Christ.
Finally, as disciples of the Risen Lord, let us also be that light of Christ for those in darkness. Following the call of Pope Francis, let us bring the joy of the gospel to the world by reflecting the Risen Lord in us, by living joyful lives filled with love and compassion, with an attitude that is positive and forward looking. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain. My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be a resurrected people and testify to others that Christ is indeed risen in us! I wish you and your loved ones a blessed and holy Easter.
Yours devotedly in Christ,
Archbishop William Goh