By Sarah Mac Donald - 27 March, 2016
Today’s world – where some plot to fill lives with fear and foreboding, where families are wrenched apart by war and persecution, where homes are destroyed and human life is cheapened and taken away – needs to hear the Easter message of hope, the Primate of All Ireland said in his Easter homily.
At the vigil Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh on Saturday evening, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh recalled how Pope Saint John Paul II loved to quote St Augustine – “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and Alleluia is our song.”
The Archbishop said he had met people who dearly wish they could turn back time.
“Our challenge, as an Easter people, is to enter into the hours and minutes of every day, aware that they pass so quickly, but realising that, with faith and trust, each second has so much potential for good, for love, for peace, and for joy,” he said.
“I imagine the heartbroken relatives and friends of those who died at Buncrana pier must wish they could turn the clocks back to before last Sunday; or think, if only there had been a few more minutes to save them; or, what does the future now hold?”
“I think also of the innocent victims of Tuesday’s bombings in Brussels – there they were, so anxious to ‘check in on time’, oblivious to the terrorists who were mercilessly plotting to destroy precious human life.”
A few people had said to him that awful and tragic events like last week’s had made them more conscious of the importance of their family and loved ones, and of approaching every day and hour as a gift, every moment as an opportunity not to be wasted.
The Archbishop of Armagh acknowledged that in the harrowing aftermath of tragic accidents like at Buncrana, or the violent attacks in Brussels, or natural disasters around the world, it is very human instinct to call out: “Where are you, God?”
On Good Friday, even Jesus called out in His anguish on the Cross: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
“The pain and mystery of human sorrow and suffering can never be fully grasped or answered in the context of this world alone,” he said and added that only the light of Easter can lift the despair and darkness of Good Friday.
“It is only by faith in eternal life that we can find our way through this life which is for so many, a ‘valley of tears’.”
He recalled Pope Benedict XVI’s teaching that God is, and always has been, at work in human history, and that ultimately the power of love and good will overcome evil, just as eternal life conquers death.
The Pope had said, “History is not in the hands of dark forces, of chance, or of merely human choices. The Lord, supreme arbiter of historical events, rises above the discharge of evil energies, the vehement onslaught of Satan, the emergence of plagues and wickedness.”
“He knowingly guides history to the dawn of the new heaven and the new earth…” (Pope Benedict XVI General Audience 11 May 2005).
Archbishop Martin concluded by appealing to the faithful this Easter season, to fill every moment with the hope and joy of the Risen Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the only Lord of Time.
Tá Críost éirithe! Go deimhin, tá sé éirithe! Happy Easter to you all.