March 27, 2016
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Images of the Passion of Jesus have an extraordinary hold on our imaginations. Faith tells us why this is so: we can identify the sufferings of our loved ones and our own with his. Just as Jesus carried his Cross, so we carry ours.
The message of Easter—of the resurrection of Jesus—takes us beyond the Cross to the joy and hope that come from knowing the Risen Lord. God moves us to marvel at the love Our Lord had for the entire world as he gave himself out of love to redeem sinners.
In our Easter faith, Jesus goes forth to encounter his disciples and every man, woman and child throughout the ages, including our own. He comes and shares with us his joy, peace, the Holy Spirit and the special gift of himself “in the breaking of the bread”—in Holy Communion. With this in mind, we reread this Easter how Jesus revealed himself to the disciples in so many touching ways.
All the resurrection accounts hint at the reversal of the tragedy of Jesus' death. In Luke's account the message of the angels takes on a challenging tone, “why do you look for the living among the dead?” There is an incompatibility now between Jesus and death. He shares eternal life with God and offers it to those who believe.
Jesus commissions Mary as the “apostle (the one sent) to the apostles”, to bring the good news of the resurrection to the world. He asks us to do the same today.
The Canadian government is working on legislation to permit euthanasia and assisted suicide. A person contemplating assisted suicide often fears physical pain, does not want to be a burden on family or friends, recoils at the thought of being dependent on others for care and dreads the idea of dying alone.
These are genuine fears but as Catholic Christians we know that we have solutions for these anxieties grounded in our faith in Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, and in reason. With accessible palliative care we can manage pain and the supportive presence and prayers of family and friends comforts and alleviates the fear of being alone for those facing their final days and hours of life.
The spiritual care of the Church and its members, ordained clergy and lay faithful, are important acts of accompaniment in life’s final stages where we too can witness to the life affirming power of Christ’s defeat of final death.
My wish is that in this Jubilee Year of Mercy we all experience anew the joy of Easter and discover fresh ways to share this Good News of Jesus’ resurrection.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
✠Terrence Prendergast, S.J.
Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall