Easter 2019

Let the Joy of the Resurrection Spring Up!

Saturday April 20 | Taizé, Church of Reconciliation

Last night, it was around the cross of Jesus that we gathered. Why had he, who had done no harm to anyone, been put to death with such cruelty? No explanation is enough to really answer this question. And throughout the history of humanity, there are so many innocent victims of human violence!

Jesus loved to the end; he did not condemn anyone. And we believe that he is risen. No one can describe or even imagine the resurrection of Jesus. We can only say that he has conquered hatred by love, that death has not had the last word. He is alive and mysteriously walks alongside every human being.

I am still marked by the meeting of young people we held in Lebanon at the end of March. Among the young people from different countries of the Middle East and Europe, ninety came from Syria, from the cities of Aleppo, Homs and Damascus. A young woman came to me and said to me in tears, “There are so many abandoned children at home who do not have enough food, for clothing they just take a blanket; pray for them.”

I share her request with you. I saw in that young woman a deep faith. A faith that has no easy answer to the causes of suffering, but does not give up either in the face of suffering. A faith that allows her to feel the suffering of these children and to remain alongside them to help, as much as possible.

Today we are celebrating Holy Saturday. It is the day of God’s silence. Why did God not immediately respond to Jesus’ cry on the cross by raising him on the day of his death? Like many men, women and children, Jesus must have known this silence of God so that he could be fully in solidarity with us.

It is amazing and very profound that the liturgy gives us a day of silence. This corresponds to our reality where we are often waiting for deliverance, for liberation, and where we can have the impression that God is far away.

The Eastern Church helps us to not only experience this day, but to discover a positive meaning in it. One image expresses it beautifully—the icon of the resurrection. We see Jesus going down into the darkness. And what does he do there? He breaks open the gates of hell. He takes Adam and Eve by the hand, in other words all humankind, and he goes back up, bringing them out of this prison.

So, let us dare to let the joy of the resurrection, the joy of Christ, explode in our lives. Far from distancing us from those who suffer, this joy gives us instead the courage to face our own suffering and that of others.

To keep and always regain the momentum of this paschal faith, we need to walk with others, to talk with others about our faith, our doubts, about how to pray. Last week I was in Rome. As he does every year, the Pope received me in an audience, for a moment of sharing between the two of us.

At the end of the audience, I asked Pope Francis if he would record a short video message to greet the young people coming to Taizé. He did it willingly; you can see it on the internet. He encourages you to journey together with others, not alone, in faith, and also to be aware of the beauty of the earth, of nature, and to do all you can to take care of the environment. And humbly he asks you to pray for him.

We brothers live together because we want to express through our community life that Christ is risen, that he brings us together in himself, beyond all the differences that may exist between us.

We are very happy that tomorrow morning our brother Jubaraj from Bangladesh will make a commitment in our community for his entire life. This is a big celebration for us, for our brothers who have been living in Bangladesh for more than forty years, and the brothers who live in small groups elsewhere in the world associate themselves with this joy. To accompany our brother Jubaraj we will sing a song in Bangla tomorrow morning: “He Probhu tomatey.”

This year, we will also remember that it was on Easter morning 1949, just 70 years ago, that the first seven brothers, after many years of searching and preparation, committed themselves for their whole lives to following Christ in our community. In their wake, we can rejoice in the life it is possible for us to live today.

Let us thank God for bringing us together through Christ in the Holy Spirit in this unique communion that is the Church: even poor and imperfect, it enables us to be a sign of God’s love for all humanity.

Last updated: 23 April 2019