Easter Message 2020: The Lord has never and will never abandon us, Perth Archbishop affirms

09 Apr 2020

By Amanda Murthy

By Amanda Murthy

Easter Sunday is God’s answer to the despair Jesus’ first disciples faced and it is God’s answer to the deafening silence and distressing void which fills our lives now, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has said in his 2020 Easter message.

“The God revealed in Jesus is not a God who waves a magic wand and takes away all pain and suffering,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“[However] the God of Jesus comes to meet us, as Jesus did so often during His life.

If we so let Him, Archbishop Costelloe said, to be with us in our distress, our suffering and our confusion in order to lead us, to a new and richer life.

Recounting the first words Jesus spoke to the women at the tomb on the day of His resurrection – “Do not be afraid” – words that Jesus often said throughout His ministry, Archbishop Costelloe committed the same encouragement to the Perth Catholic community, especially during this time of crisis.

“These are words which we need to hear from the Lord every day, but at this time of crisis they take on a new significance and become powerful words of hope as the fear and confusion generated by the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world.”

Recently, Pope Francis reflected on this fear and distress when, in a dark, deserted and rain-swept Saint Peter’s Square in Rome, he led a prayer service in which he spoke of the “thick darkness [which] has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice it in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost”.

It is through these words, Archbishop Costelloe concurred, that the Holy Father gives expression to what is surely an almost universal human experience in these days.

“We do, indeed, feel afraid and lost,” Archbishop Costelloe agreed.

“So many of the things, big and small, which give structure to our daily lives, have been taken away from us. We don’t know when, or in some cases even if, they will be returned to us,” he added.

This natural human response to a crisis, Archbishop Costelloe acknowledged, were similar sentiments experienced by Jesus’ first disciples on the day after Jesus death.

“It wasn’t just the loss of Jesus, agonising though that was, but it was the loss of hope and loss of faith,” Archbishop Costelloe explained.

“Jesus had told them of a God who was unbelievably compassionate, merciful and loving. This was a God to believe in and to love.

“But where was that God when Jesus needed him most? The disciples could only conclude that Jesus must have been wrong – and then Jesus rises from death to new life,” Archbishop Costelloe acclaimed.

Archbishop Costelloe added that although the faithful would not be able to gather together as communities of faith to celebrate this holiest of weeks, neither are “we” able to receive the Lord’s Body and Blood when we celebrate the Eucharist virtually, at this time of crisis, the Lord has not abandoned “us”, the same way He never abandoned His first disciples.

“The disciples had to learn to look for Him in new ways,” Archbishop Costelloe said, recounting scripture.

“They had to let Him surprise them, as He did for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, by coming to them in ways they had not expected. It will be the same for us.

“And as we do meet him in strange and unexpected ways, and learn to know him more deeply than we do at present, we can look forward to the joy of coming together again around the Eucharistic table to share with our brothers and sisters all the ways in which our hearts burned within us because we had met Him along the winding road we are all travelling together.”

Archbishop Costelloe concluded his message by offering a sign of peace, hope and happiness to all celebrating Easter.

“I wish you all a happy and hope-filled Easter, and one that is made a little easier because we know that we are all being supported by each other’s prayer,” Archbishop Costelloe expressed.

“May God bless you all.”