In many places the large rough wooden cross carried into the Good Friday liturgy remains in place throughout the first few weeks of Easter. But now bunches of spring flowers surround its foot and a good length of white linen is draped over its arms. Once a cruel instrument of torture and death, it has become for us a wondrous sign of hope and glory in Christ.
When that cross on a hill outside the city wall looked to the world like a “tree of defeat” for the mission of Christ, an end to the kingdom he was proclaiming, God made of it a “tree of victory”. Now its limbs point the gospel in all directions, to the very ends of the earth.
In his dying “Christ was reconciling the world to God, not counting our trespasses against us and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us” (2 Corinthians 5:19, 20). Through his rising that magnificent work continues in the world. Christ breaks down the barriers we are so prone to erect, and he gives us the grace to make of all the debris the very paths on which we can walk reconciled and renewed in our love and respect for one another as children of God.
We live in a time when the world is in desperate need of reconciliation. In headline after headline, and image after image, we are confronted with so many atrocities committed in the name of religious extremism or political clout. If we are to be about the healing needed within and among the nations, there needs to be a renewed effort for global dialogue, in the search for common commitments and an unwavering resolve in abiding by them. There needs to be a renewed trust in the power of God working through all of us, to bring about the transformation for which we long.
In their joint Easter Message the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem have said, “It is our prayer that the hope established through our Risen Lord will enlighten the leaders and nations of the whole world to see this light, and to perceive new opportunities to work and strive for the common good and recognise all as created equal before God. This light of Christ draws the whole human family toward justice, reconciliation and peace and to pursue it diligently. It draws us all to be unified and to be at harmony with one another. The power and resonance of the Resurrection permeates all suffering, injustice and alienation, bringing forth hope, light, and life to all.”
Well rooted in Saint Paul’s deep desire “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10) these Church Leaders are speaking a word of hope in troubled times.
With them I pray that we may know afresh the power of Christ’s Resurrection; that we who are signed with his Cross in baptism may embrace the newness of life to which he leads us and all the world.