A joint Holy Week and Easter message from Archbishop Eamon Martin and Archbishop-elect John McDowell
“Early on the first day of the week while it was still dark…” John 20:1
The Easter story begins in darkness, in a time of great fear, sorrow and despair. The disciples were nowhere to be seen but were hidden away behind locked doors fearing for their lives. That description could very easily describe the world we have been living in for the last number of weeks as the covid-19 pandemic has taken hold. What once was familiar has become unfamiliar and we are now in so many ways cut off from our normal routine and way of living. Family and friends are isolated and kept apart, with doors closed to keep out an unseen enemy. Every day we search for good news and some sort of light upon the horizon.
When he rose from the dead on that first Easter morning, the risen Christ brought the light of hope into the darkness of despair. The stone was rolled away from the entrance to the tomb and the risen Lord appeared to Mary. Through closed doors he entered the place where the disciples were and said to them “peace be with you.”
The Easter story may begin in the darkness, but it ends in the light. From Good Friday to Easter Day – from the cross to the empty tomb, from death to life, these holy days invite us to journey inwards to seek the inner peace that only Christ can bring.
That peace and confidence in Christ encourages us, like the first disciples, to announce and live out the Good News that Christ is alive! In our present situation we have seen the light of the risen Christ shine out in the devotion and care shown by healthcare workers and others on the frontline reaching out to help the sick; in the kindness shown by neighbour to neighbour and in gentle and simple acts of compassion carried out by countless “Good Samaritans”. Despite the uncertainty, suffering and grief caused by the pandemic, the Lord is near. We must never give up hope. His spirit is with us as sons and daughters of the Resurrection.
“Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” John 20:20
Christ is risen from the dead. Alleluia!
+Eamon Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh
Church of Ireland Archbishop-elect of Armagh