Easter and ANZAC Day


21 Apr 2017

The transition from Easter to ANZAC Day in Australia can be a strange one for Christians.

This year, we have just gone from the terrible desolation of Good Friday, where Christ is crucified on the Cross, to the joy of Easter Sunday and Christ alive among us. ANZAC Day forces us back to the reality that Christ’s resurrection does not mean an end to pain and suffering.

Looking back to the major wars of the 20th century that Australia was involved in, knowing they were waged by Christians against each other, as well as those of other and no faiths, we can see that the world is still far from that which Christ envisaged for us.

Dawn services across Australia will mark ANZAC Day, hopefully helping us remember the terrible cost of war, and renew our determination to be peacemakers. It will help us remember those who have lost their lives in war, and whose efforts and sacrifice helped shape our country’s history.

But in our reflections on ANZAC Day, it’s worth also looking at what it has to say in the light of the Easter story.

ANZAC Day teaches Christians that each generation is forced to confront sin in themselves, and in those around them who have succumbed to it. The stories we share on ANZAC Day look back at how our forebears confronted that sin, some succumbing to it, others transcending it.

Easter tells us that we can win peace with God, but only when we fully confront the lessons of the Cross. One of those lessons is that to fully live, we must be willing to sacrifice all that we are to God; and if we are unwilling to make that sacrifice, we can never be born into a new life with Christ.

Most of us will hopefully never know what it’s like to confront the terrible realities of war, and the choices that are forced on people in those times. But ANZAC Day takes us into those places, bringing us stories of those who were there, and giving us an insight into the realities that they faced.

When we pray on ANZAC Day, we might ask ourselves what we do to win peace with God? How do we respond as followers of Christ where there seems so little evidence of God’s goodness? How do we make sacrifices as Christ did, in the hope of bringing new life to ourselves and our world?

An Easter prayer

Lord bring me peace,
From the silence of Christ’s tomb,
From the cold of evening,
From whispered deceptions,
From muted cries for help,
From the rough gasp of death.

Lord let me live,
In the havoc of the risen Christ,
In the blasting of the sunrise,
In shattering laughter,
In cries of welcome,
In the joyous eruptions of birth.

Lord, bring me peace and let me live.

Michael McVeigh is the Editor of Australian Catholics magazine, and senior editor at Jesuit Communications.
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