Dear people of God, and all people of good will, may the Peace of our Risen Lord be with you. “I give thanks to my God each time I think of you, and when I pray for you, I pray with joy”, (Phil 1:3-4).
Around this time last year, the World Health Organisation declared the Coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. About one and half million people had contracted the virus worldwide and about one hundred thousand deaths had been recorded. Today, over one hundred and twenty-eight million people have contracted the virus and over two million, eight hundred people have lost their lives to the pandemic.
Many countries, states, cities, towns, and villages have experienced multiple lockdowns as a means of slowing the spread of this virus. These mitigatory steps have led to loss of employment and isolation for many people. We applaud the governments that initiated programmes which cushioned the economic effects of the lockdowns.
We acknowledge the heroic work of our health personnel – doctors, nurses, paramedics, laboratory technicians, and social workers, who are working tirelessly to bring relief to those infected with Covid 19. Some of them have contracted the virus in the line of duty and have paid the ultimate price.
We acknowledge all the work that is being done to contain the spread of the virus through social distancing, the wearing of masks and the development of vaccines. I call upon the vaccines manufacturers to be conscious of the ethical concerns raised by use of embryonic stem cells.
While some countries and cities have contained the virus, others are going into new lockdown. We thank God that in Victoria we can celebrate Easter in person unlike last year when we were in total lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Though the situation has greatly improved in Australia at large and in Victoria in particular, we are not completely out of the woods, hence, wash and sanitise your hands frequently and maintain social distancing rules.
Whatever your situation might be at this moment, we want to reassure you that the world will rise again from her ashes because Jesus rose from his ashes. When Jesus died on Good Friday his disciples were despondent and went into lockdown mood. They shut themselves out from the wider community because their world had crashed. The enemies of Jesus and his ministry thought that they had triumphed. However, their victory was only a mirage. When Jesus rose on Easter Sunday, he gave new hope and meaning to his disciples. Now, more than two thousand years after his detractors thought that they had sniffed his ministry in the bud, Jesus lives on! He is our Lord, Messiah, Saviour and King, Alleluia!
Jesus said, “Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest”, (Mt 11:28-30). The core issue for us at this moment is to ponder on the question: what lessons is God communicating to the world through this crisis? At times humanity might think that they are invincible, but through catastrophic experiences our finitude is brought once again to the fore. This is a sober moment when we ask for God’s mercy and direction as we come to the realisation that the world’s edifices can crumble within the twinkling of an eye.
May the Risen Lord lead the world to the Truth and help her recover from her ashes, as she did recover from two world wars, the Spanish flu, and the Great Depression. Amen.
We wish you a Happy Easter. You have carved niches in our hearts, we treasure your support of the Parish, and we will always remember you in our prayers.
Fr Chinua Okeke CSSp Fr Jude Agorchukwu CSSp