By Fr. Ben Chola MCCJ
Pope Francis once said, “the mercy of God is greater than our sins.” When we look around the world today, what we see is; corruption, dishonesty, exploitation, bloodshed and hatred. Our mother land Africa is not immune to these, because everyday, stories of brothers fighting against brothers, sisters against sisters, sons against fathers and daughters against mothers top our headlines. For instance, what is taking place in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic and now Cameron among others. All this confusion around the world is because of selfishness, egoism, arrogance and power, above all. Do we ever pause and think what we are fighting for and who the beneficiaries of our bloodshed and hatred are? Despite all this, the risen Lord invites us to celebrate the joy of Easter which is the love and mercy of God. During Easter season, we celebrate patience, peace, kindness, compassion and above all, the love and mercy of God for humanity.
Brothers and sisters, as we celebrate this Easter, as His faithful followers, our lives should be marked by Jesus’ self-giving love. If He did it, we can do no less than He did for our brothers and sisters. Christ’s death on the cross is an expression of His love for His disciples and all Christians. We are called to do good to our neighbours just as He did. St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians (13: 4- 7) enlightens that; love is patience, love is kindness, love is not jealous, love is not arrogant, love does not insist on its own way, love does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right path.
Love bears all things, believes all things and hopes all things.The Joy of Easter invites us to be patient with each other. Being patient does not mean letting ourselves be continually mistreated, accepting physical violence and allowing other people to use us. The risen Lord has shown us throughout the Lenten season how to encounter problems in the day to day life with our neighbours. Brothers and sisters, even when we see that relationships with others is sour, when we put ourselves at the center and expect things to turn out our way, then everything makes us impatient and we react aggressively.
Unless we cultivate patience, we will always find excuses for responding irritably to others. Easter period is a time for our patience to take root and allow us to recognize that other people have a right to live in this world, with their points of growth, strengths and weaknesses. It does not matter if they hold us back, if they unsettle our plans, or annoy us by the way they act and think about us. Patience is the sign of love to each other and acceptance that we all make mistakes. Therefore, patience is at the service of others. A good human person is one who shows his or her goodness by his or her deeds towards humanity. Jesus made it clear on the cross that patience is not a completely passive attitude, but, one which is accompanied by activity, by a dynamic and creative interaction with others.
Easter season is the highest manifestation of the love and mercy of God for humanity. We are called to love our brothers and sisters, refrain from speaking too much about ourselves, but focus on others. We need not be the center of attention, just like some of our leaders who want to be the center of attention and think that without them nothing can go on in our nation. Jesus died on the cross for all of us; poor and rich, holy and sinners. Some people think that because they are more spiritual or wise, they are more important than others. Yet, what really makes us important is the power to understand the less privileged, show concern to the poor and the weak and above all, the love of God for our neighbour. The Love of the risen Lord is generous and the cross is the sign of God’s charity towards humanity.
Salvation is not given to us because of our merits, but based on God’s mercy. God is merciful and always ready to forgive us. Brothers and sisters, unless we learn to forgive one another, then we’ll build a society where people work for the common good. Forgiveness is rooted in a positive attitude that seeks to understand other people’s weaknesses and excuse them. As Jesus said “Father forgive them; for they don’t know what they are doing” (LK 23:34). Yet, we keep looking for more and more faults, imagining greater evils, presuming all kinds of bad intentions. When we have been offended or let down, forgiveness is possible and desirable, but, no one can say that it is easy.
The truth is that forgiveness is the heart of any family, community and society, because, only those who forgive each other can live together, eat together, work together and build the society together, as a common home for all. The joy of Easter is the joy of the mercy of God. Let us rejoice with others the joy of our risen Lord and manifest His love and mercy to all. The joy of Easter invites us to appreciate those who find joy in the happiness of others. If we fail to learn how to rejoice in the well- being of others and focus mostly on our own needs, we sentence ourselves to a joyless Easter season. A family of God must be a place where, when something good happens to a brother or a sister, its members will be there to celebrate with them.
The Lord gives hope for everything as love does not despair of the past, present and future. This is the hope of one who knows that others can change, mature and radiate unexpected beauty and untold potential. This does not mean that everything will change in life. It implies that, though things may not always turn as we wish, God may make crooked lines straight and draw some good from the evil we endure in this world. Hope endures all things and bears every difficult situation with a positive attitude. It looks out for firmness in hostile surroundings.
This endurance involves not only the ability to tolerate certain annoyances, but, something greater, a constant readiness to confront any challenge of life. It is hope that never gives up even in the darkest hours of our lives. Brothers and sisters, the risen Lord invites us to be the moving cross of salvation in our families, communities and the society at large. St. Daniel Comboni once said all the good works are born at the feet of cavalry. The joy of Christ is love. Let us proclaim the love and mercy of the risen Lord through our words and actions. Jesus tells us through His resurrection, love your enemy and pray for them.
The person who hates you most has some good in them, even the nation that hates you most has some good in it and even the race that hates you most has some good in it. When you come to the point that you look in the face of every human person and see the image of God, then know that you have risen with Christ from the dead. No matter what we go through in life, let us proclaim the love and mercy of the risen Lord to all. Then we will say to all, receive the joy of Easter!
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