15 Apr “In the resurrection, the power of love overcomes all evil”: Easter Letter of the Minister General 2017
“If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him” (Rom 6: 8-9)
My dear Brothers and friends,
Alleluia! In our Easter commemoration, we celebrate the events of the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Like the faithful women who stood by Jesus in death and who were the first witnesses to the resurrection, we too recognize in these paschal events the dawning of a new hope for the life of the world, a world torn apart by divisions and conflicts, a world God has chosen to love unconditionally (Jn 3:16). In the resurrection, the power of love overcomes all evil.
We stand as believers and followers of Jesus giving witness to an alternative vision of life, an alternative way of living in this world, guided by the Spirit of God. We recall that it is this same Spirit of God who is present at the moment of the creation of the world. This same Spirit is present in the events of the annunciation of the birth of the Messiah to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. It is the Spirit who accompanies Jesus throughout his life on earth, inspiring his preaching and teaching, his simple acts of kindness and love. It is the Spirit who accompanies Jesus along the road to Golgotha, witnessing Jesus’ suffering and humiliating death on the cross. It is the Spirit of God who remains with Jesus through death and burial, demonstrating unwavering love for the only beloved Son who gives his live in love in order that the world might be reconciled to itself and to God. And it is the Spirit who raises the Son to life anew (Rom 8:11).
This Holy Spirit who was present in every moment in the life of Jesus, from life to death and to new life, is also present in our world today. The resurrection is the definitive sign of God’s fidelity to the Son, to each of us, and to all of creation. We have need of this message today more than ever: God loves us, is walking with us, healing our wounds, calling us to live reconciled lives with all people, called to be messengers of love, mercy, and peace.
The Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead continues to carry on the work of the Father and the Son, reminding us that divisions, violence, hatred, destruction, and death do not have the final word; they are not the victors. In the resurrection of Jesus, we receive the final confirmation that love and only love is the final victor, and the ultimate vocation to which we are called. I witnessed this in the lives of our brothers and sisters living in Damascus, Aleppo, and Latakia in Syria these past days. In the midst of death and destruction on a cataclysmic scale, the Christians of Syria who have lost loved ones, homes, and livelihood refuse to submit to the temptation of abandoning God, their faith, and their commitment to pursue a path towards reconciliation and reconstruction. They stand with Mary Magdalene before the empty tomb; they search for meaning in the total absence of all that might seem rational and human; they run to the community of faith where they share stories of discouragement and despair, hope and love, and where in the Eucharist they discover, as did the disciples of Emmaus, the presence of the risen Lord Jesus who never abandons them, never abandons those who have been called into relationship with Him.
My dear brothers and friends, let us take to heart the words from the Sequence, Victim paschali laudes:
“Christians, to the Pascal Victim offer sacrifice and praise. The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb and Christ the undefiled, hath sinners to his Father reconciled. Death with life contended: combat strangely ended! Life’s own Champion, slain, yet lives to reign. Tell us Mary: say what thou didst see upon the way. The tomb the Living did enclose; I saw Christ’s glory as he rose! The angels there attesting; shroud with grave-clothes resting. Christ, my hope, has risen: he goes before you in Galilee. That Christ is truly risen from the dead we know. Victorious king, thy mercy show! Amen! Alleluia!”
He is truly risen! His love and mercy are victorious!
A blessed and joy-filled Easter to all!
Bro. Michael A. Perry, OFM
Minister General and Servant
Rome, 15 April 2017
Vigil of Easter