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Publish Date: 19 April 2019
 

The Archbishop’s Easter Message 2019


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

May the Peace of our Lord always be with you!

To deepen our understanding of Easter, we can revisit God’s creation of the universe and the history of his salvation of humankind.

In the beginning, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God created light, sky, earth, vegetation, stars, fish, birds, animals of every kind, and then humans, the most precious of all living creatures. “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31). Regrettably, human beings began to lose their glory soon thereafter. Adam and Eve fell from grace, and their son Cain killed his brother Abel. Evil and corruption became part of the human world where war, pollution, destruction, murder, rape, robbery and other sins gradually made their appearance.

If sin and destruction were caused by humans, the question arises: was the creation of men and women still such a wonderful thing? Would nature thrive better without humans? If glorifying God is the noblest purpose of humankind, have we fulfilled this purpose? The answers to these questions are obvious, but one thing is certain: although humans have committed many wrongs, they have been granted a chance for renewal. This opportunity to live as “a new person” in a “new day” can be compared with God’s creation of the universe.

This “new day” came with the first Easter. The resurrection of Christ is the most important event since Creation because it brings new hope to humankind. This new hope is the joyous news of Christ’s resurrection proclaimed by the apostles.

St Peter proclaimed the Lord’s resurrection in the Book of Acts, saying, “God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses.” (Acts 10: 40-41). On Good Friday, the Church teaches us that St Peter denied Jesus three times, but when he realized his mistake, “he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75). This is why we can see a reborn Peter on Easter. From then onwards, Peter never denied Christ again and made proclaiming the good news of Christ’s resurrection his life’s purpose.

St Peter is an example of faith merged with love. Throughout the history of the Church, faith and love have always been tightly woven together. Our faith is identical with our personal ideals, which means a kind of commitment to faith and trust. The faith mentioned in the Bible is not simply a belief. Since “having faith” means “committing (oneself) whole-heartedly and devotedly”, therefore to have faith is to act. The root of the Latin word “Credo”, which means “I believe,” is “cor”, which means the heart. The Bible teaches us that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but emptiness. A person without faith is one who is empty of ideals, has nothing to live for and finds no meaning in life.

The Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus insisted on going to Jerusalem for the sake of his mission, which is to suffer, die, and be resurrected. In the Book of Acts, Luke records that Jesus instructed his disciples in Jerusalem to go forth and spread his gospel “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Therefore the apostles’ experience of spreading Jesus’ gospel that is described in the Acts may also be said to be the second journey of Christ.

The Book of Acts explores Jesus’ resurrection from the perspective of the Church, which is the body of Christ. Therefore all liturgies at Eastertide take passages from Acts as their first lesson. The teachings of St Peter and other apostles in Acts became the basic elements of the four Gospels, which includes: Jesus’ ministry, his death and resurrection, and the witness of Christ as the true Lord. Like Christians of the past, we come to know Christ and become his disciples through the witness of others. This message that calls for our whole-hearted response is the proclamation of the good news “God’s salvation of humankind”.

St Peter’s teachings in chapter 10 of Acts can be seen as a “mini creed”. And it is very appropriate for us to reaffirm and reconfirm our own baptismal vows at Easter. Peter said unequivocally, God’s plan for human redemption through the history of the Israelites was realized in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, whose ministry was an inseparable part of God’s revelation (see Acts 10: 37). When the Holy Spirit manifested itself in Jesus Christ at his baptism, it revealed that Jesus was the messenger who brought God’s salvation to humankind.

The first book of the Bible points out that the human fall came because we want to play God; but the New Testament promises that we can be like God. What does Jesus Christ promise that the devil cannot? The answer is “new life”. To be given new life through the Lord’s resurrection is a joy beyond description. Easter is more important to us than other feasts because at Easter our lives are brimming with brilliance, praise and joy. From today onwards, we no longer view heaven as a place far away from us, because it has already been made manifest in Jesus Christ.

May all who are given new life through the Risen Lord, live out their “heavenly life” on earth by witnessing God’s power and love; may the good news of the Risen Lord bring each and every one of you a happy Easter.

+ Paul Kwong

 

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