Easter messages

Newry Cathedral News

Message from Canon Francis

Message from Archbishop Eamon Martin

A Greeting of Easter Peace from Archbishop Eamon

There’s an ancient Ukrainian folk song that was written to mark the fresh beginning of spring. We know it’s melody from the Christmas carol called, the “carol of the bells”, but the original version was actually sung at this time of the year. It tells the tale of a swallow flying into a home after the winter to promise the family a new season of joy, happiness and plenty.

It’s hard to imagine such a hopeful scene for the people of Ukraine this Easter. Peace and prosperity seem a distant dream – I expect it’s easier for them to meditate on the pain of Good Friday, or on the emptiness of Holy Saturday, than on the joy and happiness of Easter.

And yet the Risen Lord’s first words to his disciples were ‘Peace be with you’. And he meant much more than the traditional ‘Shalom’, for at the same time as offering peace, Christ showed his friends the wounds of violence in his hands and in his side – the marks of the crucifixion. Easter peace is therefore offered through the blood of the cross. He is both the Crucified, and the Risen Saviour, one who is acquainted with suffering.

On Easter morning the disciples were still in hiding, locked away, in fear and terror, shell-shocked by the trauma of seeing their hero – their Prince of Peace – tortured, mocked and horrifically nailed to a wooden cross. But the Risen Lord seeks them out; he enters in behind the locked doors and walls of their fear and isolation. He brings them a peace that the world cannot give, and he reassures their troubled hearts that death and evil will not have the last word. ‘Peace be with you’, he says, ‘Do not be afraid’.

Easter peace does not deny the reality of suffering and death. And how much the world today needs to hear that message. From Ukraine to Tigray, from Syria to South Sudan, the cross of Good Friday continues to cast its shadow in the suffering of millions caught up in the violence and aggression of war. Mercifully, also, the work of peacemakers and the enormous outpouring of love, welcome and humanitarian aid bears witness to the hope and promise of Easter peace that can never be extinguished by war or hatred. One day families will be reunited, homes rebuilt, livelihoods restored; the deafening noise of bombardment will give way once more to the sounds of bells ringing, and birds singing,

On this Easter morning, I wish you Christ’s gift of Easter peace – for yourselves personally and for your families, for our country and for our world.

Happy Easter.