By Analou De Vera
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Saturday called on the faithful to spread love and hope as the country celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ today, April 21.
In his Easter message, Tagle invited the faithful to “seize the power of love unleashed by the risen Christ this Easter.”
“Love is not just a word, it’s a lifestyle of seeing, encountering, and understanding other people. It is the lifestyle of Jesus, crucified and risen. It is the lifestyle of being with and living for others in the belief that light will always overcome darkness,” said Tagle.
Tagle encouraged the faithful to see other people’s situations with deep understanding, compassion, and solidarity.
“We are called as Christians to encounter others and walk with them humbly, without judgment, or pretensions of having the answer to all their problems. It is through these encounters that our hearts are opened and presented with a new horizon and a renewed energy to move forward,” he said.
“It is through these encounters of love and caring that persons, families, and communities are transformed from prisoners of despair into bearers of hope,” he added.
‘Where is love?’
The prelate said that people ask “where is love?” when they face hardships or when they see “injustices destroying lives,” inferring that Jesus Christ may have asked the same question when he cried out, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”
“Sometimes we find ourselves in dark place, like Jesus on the cross, and our lives can seem loveless. When hunger, unemployment, addictions, indignities, abuse, hate speech, false accusations, killing, corruption, human trafficking run wild and seem to reign, our world appears dark,” said Tagle.
“But if we look more carefully, more intently at people and situations, it is then that we see love revealing itself,” he said.
The Manila Archbishop said that an act of kindness can make a difference “in the face of unrelenting evil.”
“It can make all the difference in ways we can’t even imagine how because these small acts of care and love are crowned by the total self-giving of Christ crucified on the cross,” he said.
The faithful were also encouraged to never give up no matter how difficult the circumstances they are in, said Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Public Affairs Committee.
Secillano said that the resurrection of Jesus Christ offers the people hope.
“When human capacity cannot anymore accomplish things or overcome the odds, be brave and be confident,” he said.
“Let us turn to the risen Lord and allow Him to make things happen for us. Hope tells us not to put a limit to what God can do,” he added.
Message of hope
Balanga Bishop Ruperto C. Santos also underscored that the message of Easter is hope.
“Easter marks a happy and good ending. Its message is clear, that in life, there is always HOPE. Even if our life journey is rough and rugged, hope is never lost because we can always rise up when we fall,” Santos said, stressing that God is our source of hope.
“Our hope is God. Even if we experience pain, or we struggle and suffer, there is still hope to hold on to because we can always hold on to God who is always there for us,” Santos, also head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said.
“Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection reminds us that as Jesus resurrected from the dead, there is always a reason for us to hope and to celebrate life,” he added.
“Jesus’ resurrection is victory over sin and death. Just as God did not abandon His Son, Jesus, He will surely help us in our afflictions. He will lead us from defeat, from death. Whoever we are and whatever we are in life, remember that with God, no one is hopeless and no one is helpless,” the Church leader stressed.
Santos also reminded the faithful of the redemptive and healing message of Easter.
“With Jesus rising from death, we are saved. Our relationship with God is made whole and complete again. Jesus has brought us back to God, worthy and pleasing to be with God again. Even with what is happening around us, always be hopeful and share this hope to others, Place your hope in God. Let your life be always an Easter season that is, always be ready and available to help and heal, not hurt nor harm anyone by your words deeds. Make all your endings happy, good, and hopeful,” the prelate said.
The greatest feast
Considered as the foundation of the Christian faith, Easter Sunday is the greatest feast that renders complete the mystery of man’s salvation and redemption. It is the high point of the 40-day Lenten season that began on Ash Wednesday, and the culmination of the Holy Week.
In Rome, Italy, the Holy Father’s Easter Sunday Mass at the Saint Peter’s Square at 10:15 a.m.is considered as the most well-attended Eucharistic celebration. Pope Francis will celebrate his seventh Easter Sunday Mass, which is expected to gather together thousands of Catholics of different nationalities, and viewed live on television by millions more across the world.
The Pontiff will deliver the traditional Urbi et Orbi (To the city and to the world) Easter Papal Message and Apostolic Blessing at noon in the central loggia of the Vatican basilica, a tradition that is also done on Christmas Day. Pope Francis also presided over the solemn Easter Vigil mass at the Vatican City last night.
Pope Leo I, an early Church Father, called Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday as “the greatest feast” (festum festorum) and said that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter.
The New Testament teaches that the Resurrection of Christ, which according to the Sacred Scripture took place on the third day after His Crucifixion, is the foundation of the Christian faith.
“The Resurrection established Jesus as the Son of God and that God has given Christians a new birth into a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Christians, through faith in the living God, are spiritually ‘resurrected’ with Jesus.” (With a report from Christina I. Hermoso)