God of life and love


5 Apr 2023

The message of Easter this year, as with all years, is that there is always hope and life will prove stronger than death.

In many nations with a Christian history the most delicious recipes are those designed for Easter. Particularly the sweets. That is understandable. When Lent was a time of fasting its conclusion at Easter was a time to celebrate with lots of good food. [Just as Eid still is in Muslim communities which celebrate the end of Ramadan.]

The move from fast to feast, however Jesus’ sombre last journey to Jerusalem ended with despair at his tortured death on the cross, but this was then upended by the joy and amazement of his disciples when he rose from the dead and appeared to them.

In a secular society the fasting that preceded Easter has disappeared. But Easter remains a time of celebration, marked by a few days free from work. It has also developed its own rituals – the beginning of the football season, races, camping trips and family gatherings, not to mention chocolate easter eggs and bunnies as well as the variety of special foods peculiar to the Jewish Passover and the traditions of so many immigrant communities in Australia.

Celebrations always recognise happy times and happy events, often marking the end of hard times. They also express our hope for the future – that a child baptised or circumcised will live happily and fruitfully, that a family whose matriarch has just died will continue to stay close even after her death, that a peace signed at the end of war will mark the end of all wars. Often these celebrations represent hope against hope. All the evidence may point otherwise.

The celebration of Easter this year may also seem to summon an unlikely hope. Climate change, the beating of the drums of war around the world and in Australia, debt, inflation and the powerlessness of governments to address such large issues point more to a nailed down coffin than to a tomb found empty and tended by angels. And yet we hope that goodness will triumph over evil, that life will prove stronger than death, that our nation and world will see that the security of each of us is bound up in the service of one another.

That is the message of Easter: that hope can spring up and new life can grow in an apparently barren places, and that God is a God of life and love.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ is an editorial consultant at Jesuit Communications
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