The Ordinary, Rt Revd Msgr Keith Newton pa has issued an Easter message.
A happy and holy Easter to you!
I wanted to take this opportunity to send you my greetings on this great festival of our faith.
“We are Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.” These are the great words of St Augustine, the fourth-century Bishop of Hippo, and throughout this Eastertide, this is the cry of the Church. If you were a Greek Christian, you would greet people on Easter Day with the words “The Lord is risen,” and they would reply “He is risen indeed! Alleluia.”
St Paul tells us that without the Resurrection our faith would be null and void and we of all people would be the most to be pitied. The empty tomb, and the Risen Lord, are at the very centre of our faith. It was that great Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsay, who put it very starkly when he said, “For them” — speaking of the early disciples, the Early Church — “for them, the Gospel without the Resurrection was not merely a Gospel without the final chapter; it was no Gospel at all.”
But of course, our joy today is tinged with sadness and concern, as our world fights a battle with an unseen virus — which not only affects us as individuals, but also the economic future of the world. Perhaps we long for things to return to normal, but maybe that is not what we should hope for. This disease has given us a very painful lesson that we are not self-sufficient, or masters of our own future. The human race is very vulnerable.
Every day during this pandemic, I have been praying the prayer from St Gregory’s Prayer Book, which I mentioned in my previous video. It has this phrase:
Grant, that perceiving how frail and uncertain our life is, we may apply our hearts to that heavenly wisdom which leadeth to eternal life.
This crisis should recall us all to the things that really matter, in a society where often the practice of the faith has been forgotten — to take us back to those basics of faith, hope and charity.
So as we celebrate this great feast, we cannot forget that for some, life is not all joy and beauty. We are only too aware of the darkness of illness at this time, of violence at home and abroad, and people living in poverty and often without hope. But we are a new creation. We live our lives in the light of this great paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Through baptism, you and I share in that mystery.
Joy is one of the great words of this Easter season. But it is not shallow joy; it’s a joy which recognises the world’s sorrows, and longs to shine the light of Christ’s love into the darkest places of the world.
The Easter faith is not an escape from life, or suffering, or death: it is rather a transformation of the old, that can enable us to see Creation in a new light, and with a new meaning. It is this joyful faith that we share during this holy season — a faith that transformed those first disciples of Jesus to be witnesses and heralds of the Resurrection.
Like them, we are Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.
The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed: alleluia.