Easter message 2011, from Archbishop Robert Rivas

My dear sisters and brothers in Christ, Alleluia!  Christ our light and our life has risen as He said.  Now the entire human race is freed from darkness and sin (Col. 1:13).  Death has lost its sting (1 Cor. 15:55).  How marvelous is the wisdom of God! How tremendous his love!

At Easter Christians everywhere celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead.  His resurrection has transformed everything —the way we see and believe.  In the resurrection of Christ the light extinguishes the darkness and life conquers death.  In the Easter Vigil a voice sings aloud: CHRIST OUR LIGHT! And we reply: THANKS BE TO GOD!  In the glow of the Easter or Paschal candle we celebrate our passage from death to life, from slavery to freedom, from darkness to light.  The Paschal Mystery of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection defines our faith.  Our Easter faith in the Risen Lord is our treasure.  We know that our Redeemer lives and he will   never to die again.

I couldn’t help but notice the signs of life as I drove along both the East and West coast of our island in early April.  Last year at this time we were experiencing a drought, this year there are mango blossoms everywhere.  When the fruit trees blossom the fruit follows.

There are also April showers and lots of birds singing and building nests everywhere.  The birds are happy and are celebrating nature’s gift of life. These signs of life are signs of hope.  At Easter we celebrate our hope in the Risen Lord.  The hurricane watch for 2011 is not encouraging but the singing of the birds and the mango blossoms six months after Tomas give us hope and the anticipation of better things to come.  The message of Easter is that God will not disappoint us.  God keeps his promise.

The Sunday before Passion Sunday a mother brought her young son to me and with a big smile said “he wants to be a priest”.  Her generosity and openness to God in wanting to give her son to God filled my heart with joy.  Out of the emptiness and wilderness of a scarcity of vocations came this voice of hope accompanied by the love of a mother and the innocence of a little boy.  It was a resurrection moment.  In that mother’s voice I heard the echo of other voices, many still too young, but nevertheless, encouraging voices expressing a desire to give and serve.  That was clearly a moment when the light broke through the darkness, when the Spirit of God stirred up the dried bones, when death gave way to life.
When the light comes who wants to stay in the dark?  Christ our true Light lights up the darkness of our lives.  Easter is the climax of a great period of renewal and conversion for all our Catholic communities.  I have heard the joy and excitement expressed by many as they reflected on their parish missions.  I was also blessed with the opportunity of concluding the Lenten Mission at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in View Fort with the celebration of the Eucharist.  The theme was ‘You are the Light of the World’.  What energy is pumped into revitalizing and renewing the faith and spirituality of our people during Lent!

I was deeply touched at the end of the celebration when the entire packed church with lighted candles lifted high made a commitment to be the light of the world, to march in the light of the Lord and to put away the works of darkness and submit to the light of Christ.  That was a grace-filled, resurrection moment for the church community in Vieux Fort.

When we see faith come alive so powerfully and lives being open to Christ we can only humble ourselves in gratitude before the dawn of hope and new life breaking through in our midst.

In the wake of elections new political parties have entered the contest. When the election bell rings the forces of darkness will undoubtedly threaten to flood the land causing disunity, factions and great confusion.  The same light that has opened our eyes to see our faults and repent, to see our blind spots and to reach for the light, to see goodness and beauty in each other and to reach out in care, respect and reconciliation must guide us on our way.  The light of Christ must guide us to be truthful, honest and respectful throughout the election process.  If we let go of the light we will find ourselves in the dark.  If we can’t see, we can’t lead and if there is no one to lead how can others follow?  The Christian as the salt of the earth and the light of the world can make a difference and has a responsibility to make a difference in the political process.

Our Easter faith, rooted in Christ our Light and our Risen Lord, must influence all our behaviour, all our actions, all that we do and say.  Everything comes under his light.  A campaigning Christian cannot afford to remain blind to the truth, respect for life issues or other human rights and justice issues that affect people’s lives.  The Christian must never lower his or her standards for the sake of popularity.  To maintain one’s integrity is to be in the light.  When we see the Easter Light of Christ shining in our land in business, politics and all aspects of public life, we know that there is a connection between faith and praxis.  What we believe and what we say and do must be in harmony.

Christ our Light has shone upon us.  He is truly risen.  In his death and resurrection the work of reconciliation between God and humanity is accomplished.  Let us work for a kinder and gentler society where we are our brother’s and our sister’s keeper.  In the spirit of our archdiocesan pastoral vision —Disciples on Mission, and following on our Lenten conversion experiences, I call on you to be disciples of peace.  Bring peace into politics and daily living.  Let peace pave our streets, neighbourhoods, homes, schools, workplaces, and all our relationships.  Let us speak peace, share peace, and be disciples of peace for a new St Lucia called to be a light in our region.

May the joy of Easter fill your hearts and your homes and may Easter peace cover our nation.  Christ our Light is risen.  Indeed He is truly risen!  Alleluia.

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