Easter message 2011

’Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.’ (Mk 16:15)

The preparatory Document II for the General Chapter directed our attention to the ’inter’ dimension that is marking the life of our societies at the present time. Whatever country we may be in, we are living in very plural contexts, whether this be the result of the movement of people within a country or the massive arrival of immigrants from all parts of the world. These are the ’inter’ aspects: inter-ethnic, inter-cultural, inter-generational, inter-religious etc. 
 
Today, no country can live isolated, closed in on itself: what is happening far away arrives via the new means of communication that cannot be controlled, and has an effect on social and political life. This is what has clearly emerged from the recent struggles for freedom in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East and still others… Sensing that they were supported by a public opinion that crossed borders whole peoples had the courage to demand loudly of unjust regimes that their basic rights be respected. Others, who live in established democracies, experience a sense of loss, of ambiguity and uncertainty. 
 
The whole world is a vast crossroads where there is perpetual movement. A crossroads where there is the mingling of peoples, the interchange of cultures, the mixing of races, where there is communication on a planetary scale, for better and for worse. A Galilee in which the passion of Christ is still being lived out, visible in the faces of those who are suffering, those who are marginalised in one way or another. Visible also through the faces of those who commit themselves for Justice, for Peace and for communion between peoples. 
 
For the disciples of Jesus, Galilee was a point of reference, it was the place of the first encounters: it was from there that Jesus went to meet John the Baptist and be baptised by him. (Mt 3:13) and was there that he went after John was arrested (Mt 4:12). It was there, in Galilee of the nations, that he began his public ministry (Mt 4:15), that he talked to the people on a hill, close to the Sea of Galilee (Mt 5). Jesus himself was known to be from Galilee (Mt 21:10), as were the women who followed him (Mt 27:55).
 
It was there, in Galilee, that Jesus prepared his disciples for his passion which was approaching (Mt 17:22). An announcement that was painful and yet central, for him, for the disciples and for us today. 
 
’The passion of Jesus is an essential setting for understanding the future of any apostolic action. Jesus proclaimed the Reign, preached con-version, granted forgiveness, healed the sick, freed spirits, encountered opposition, trained his disciples… But all that he did found its full meaning only in his central action, his passion (…) In this place where he let others have their way, we can see clearly what made him act, what animated him. It was an energy of transformation, a power of conversion, at work deep down in him, supporting the paschal movement of his being (...) "His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God..." (...) Offering himself right to the end, becoming himself a subject of radical transformation, Jesus gave birth to the new humanity, the new world.’. 
 
In Galilee, everything began again. The Risen one, transfigured after passing through his Passion and death, was waiting there for his disciples. 
Today, the whole world is the Galilee to which we are sent as followers of Jesus. ’Go throughout the whole World, proclaiming the gospel to the whole of creation.’ (Mk 16:15)
 
This call is something that immediately fires our enthusiasm because it meets our deep desire to bear witness to the Good News of the Risen One who has come to give life in abundance to all. But the reality of life soon reminds us that the disciples are not greater than their master and that, in order to respond to the mission that He confides to us, we must pass through the passion: we are invited to enter into the Son’s way of being, because ’He died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.’ (2 Co 5:15) 
 
’The passion of Jesus is thus the luminous reference for the passion of the disciple who, at the heart of his action, is also, like Jesus, taken, led, handed over, as the verbs used in the passive mood by Paul make us think: afflicted on all sides, persecuted, struck down… (2Co 4:8-10) But then, the greatest passiveness – the mark of which the apostle bore in his bodily existence – is a source of true fecundity for others, marked as it is with the gift of the life of Jesus, with the "energy" of Christ who was offered up. 
"It is for this I struggle wearily on, helped only by his power driving me irresistibly." (Col 1:29) ’
 
This throws light on the theme of the 2011 General Chapter: ’Go with all your strength… Am I not sending you myself?’ This strength comes from the saving energy that rises up from the passion of Christ who associates us with Him, so that we may set out with Him along his journey as the Servant of Life. It gives us strength, courage, perseverance so that we may be de-centred from ourselves, beginning over and over again this process of de-centring that is not natural for us. It makes us available so that we may give ourselves generously without counting, so as to act with others and to seek creatively what might promote Life among us and around us. 
 
The Resurrection of Jesus is not the end of His work, but the beginning of the Christian adventure. Jesus was bold enough to place what He had begun into the hands of his disciples so that they might continue his work of salvation with Him. Sending them, He gave them the mission to continue being builders of peace, justice and hope. He asked them to be witnesses of this Good News for the whole of creation. 
 
Animated by the presence of the risen Christ we, Little Sisters and Laity, are called and sent to participate in the mission of the Son. In welcoming this mission, we find the perseverance to live as women and men who are worthy of the name with the evangelical determination to transform the earth into a House that is habitable by all. 
 
’And know that I am with you always:
 yes, to the end of time.’ (Mt 28:20)
 
The Spirit of the Living Christ makes us bearers of hope and compassion. It enables us to decipher the signs of his presence among the ’little ones’ with whom we live: in the courage of those who do not let themselves by beaten down by adversity and continue the struggle so that things may change; in the energy of those who, caught in death-bearing situations are capable of celebrating and giving thanks for the life that is stronger than disaster. Strengthened by the energy that comes to us from Christ, we see life where, apparently, there is only a tiny shoot, a little mustard seed, and we launch ourselves forward towards the future with confidence, with the faith that soon this little seed will become a great tree full of promise for us and for those who will join us later. 
 
 
’Do not be of those who make themselves a nest or a den… but live in God with Jesus Christ. 
Then you will be fully with Our Lord, he will place in your soul the seed of eternal life and will himself develop it; you will grow every day in God, you will be a tree that extends its branches…. You will communicate to others what you have received … 
Be joyful in the Lord, have faith in Jesus Christ who alone has the power to save you. Rejoice in that he gives you the grace to participate in the Redemption. 
Rejoice because Jesus Christ lives in you and because he who saves, justifies and rewards will give you the graces of the apostolate.
Have but one heart, one mind, one will to go to Our Lord. 
May there be unity among you in faith, joy and self-giving.’ 

Etienne Pernet – Some Principles of the Spiritual Life, 
V, pg. 201 
 
21/04/2011
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