The daily news cycle keeps us constantly aware of each day’s escalating violence. A few days after celebrating Easter Sunday, I remember hearing news of the most recent chemical gassing of Syrian citizens, women, men and children, by its own government. As I prayed for peace that day in the safety of my home halfway around the world, I could not help wondering how the Christian Syrians were coping during the commemoration of the holiest events of the Christian faith, in the midst of such suffering.
During my prayer, I thought also about the victims and the loved ones of those killed by gun violence around the world and the myriad ways humanity has found to inflict suffering upon one another. Pope Francis spoke to the world in his Easter Message of many of these areas of global suffering. His message called for peace and reconciliation in a world “torn by war and conflict and marked by so many acts of injustice and violence.”
Recently I participated in an Easter Novena for Peace. It was an excellent way to really remember the Resurrection gifts of hope and peace. I know that achieving true peace requires both prayer and action, but I believe it is God’s gift of hope through the Resurrection that brings lasting peace—“the peace beyond all understanding”–despite the circumstances.
“Peace Be With You.” These were the first words that Jesus proclaimed when he appeared to his frightened friends who had just days before witnessed the horrors of his execution and death. Yet, here Jesus stands before them speaking of “peace” and sharing with them the Spirit that would empower them with hope. Is this not Easter hope, a gift of the Resurrection, still being offered by Jesus to each of us today? I believe it is. It is this Resurrection hope that enables Christians to proclaim “Happy Easter” even in a world, “torn by war and conflict and marked by so many acts of injustice and violence.”
Peace and Happy Easter.