The Easter Story
Nearly 2000 years ago, the Disciples of Jesus faced a time of great fear, uncertainty and a sense of hopelessness as they watched their Master and friend crucified as a criminal. With their hopes shattered, all that they had come to understand over the course of their discipleship, was called into question. Their mission failed. Many of the disciples went into hiding, while others escaped the city, to get as far away from situation as possible.
With the start of Holy Week on Palm Sunday, the narrative of the Gospels takes us to a place of fear, sadness, denial and despair. As Good Friday recalls Jesus’ crucifixion, death and burial in the tomb, the events as they unfold, can unveil the worst of human nature.
We know of course, that this is not where the story ends.
Three days later, as the tomb is found empty and the risen Christ appears to his Disciples, they are filled with joy and a renewed sense of purpose and life. They too were resurrected with Christ.
Why are you troubled?
We are currently facing perhaps one of the most challenging periods in the history of our modern world. COVID -19 has affected every country in the world and has significantly changed our way of life. Many will be feeling similar emotions to the disciples after Jesus’ death on the cross. The threat of sickness, isolation and distancing, uncertainty around employment and education, can all add to a sense of fear, pessimism, panic and despair.
We know of course, that this is not where the story will end.
The Easter story gives us a great sense of hope during these challenging times. Jesus asks his Disciples when he appears resurrected to them: “Why are you troubled? Why was there doubt in your hearts?” (Luke 24: 38). Despite the troubling times we are currently facing as a society, we are united with Christ through his death and resurrection, as we are united with each other in our fear. As we consider the Easter narrative, the message is clear: do not be afraid. Pope Francis recently told his global audience to “…respond to the pandemic of the virus with the universality of prayer, of compassion and tenderness. Let us make our closeness felt to those who are alone and to those who are most stricken… to doctors, to health workers, nurses, volunteers… to the authorities that have to take hard measures, but ones that are for our good… to the police, the soldiers who try to keep order always on the streets, so that the things the government orders for our good can be done,” indeed “let us be close to everyone” (Pope Francis, Live Stream Audience, March 25, 2020).
In the Spirit of the Risen Christ
The celebration of Holy Week and Easter this year in light of COVID-19 restrictions, will naturally look and feel quite different. Traditionally, Holy Week and Easter have been occasions for our school community, our families and friends to come together in prayer for liturgies and the celebration of Eucharist at Mass. In the absence of these community gatherings, there are other ways in which we can remain connected and celebrate the spirit of the risen Christ:
- Holy Week at Home – Family Liturgy Resource: http://liturgy.perthcatholic.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Holy-Week-at-Home.pdf
- Mass Streaming with the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth: http://www.perthcatholic.org.au/Our_Archdiocese-Archbishop-Videos.htm
- Supporting local charities assisting the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis:
- Caritas – With many of the events planned to raise funds for Project Compassion 2020 being cancelled, Caritas would greatly appreciate online donations:
- St Vincent de Paul Society is no longer taking material donations to ensure the health and safety of its volunteers and all those assisted by the Society. They would appreciate any online monetary donations during this time to assist families most affected by the crisis:
I encourage all of our families to engage with the suggestions above this Holy Week and Easter or find other ways to connect, pray and share the spirit of life which comes from Christ’s resurrection.