By Archbishop Philip Freier
10 April 2022
In a world of profound uncertainty and manifest cruelty, I find Jesus’ words in John 8:12 a profound reassurance: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Easter is the time of year where we must confront the world-changing reality of Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is so not only in our encounter with this as universal truth but in the particular and the personal – as truth for each of us. Australians indulged in the virtue of optimism in thinking that the Russian annexation of Crimea in February 2014 was an isolated anomaly that would not have any longer-term ramifications or impact on us. The full-blown invasion of Ukraine over the past month has shown us that these events, eight years earlier, were not just an isolated aberration. Where we seemed to look at these events as a small bump in the road of inevitable progress towards democracy across the world, more sinister predictions were there to be seen. Instead of a small and localised situation, we have seen horrors unfold beyond our imagining as civilian targets increasingly succumb to Russian military power.
The journey through Holy Week and Easter draws our attention to God’s purposes in Christ for the restoration of divinely ordered harmony in a fallen world suffering from the effects of human sin. Even in the affairs of nations there is moral culpability for the decisions of leaders, and their followers, for the impact of their behaviour on others. No amount of misinformation or political spin can shield the actors in these world events from their moral responsibility or from God’s judgement. Jesus embodies his teaching in the Sermon the Mount in the way he approaches his trial, his passion, and his death on the cross. He embodies the “blessedness” that he proclaimed and, in turn, gives this blessedness as an overflowing gift to those who follow him. Irrespective of time, place or circumstance, Jesus offers his followers his light of truth and peace, no matter what.
I hope that your journey through Lent has given you more insight into the richness of the peace that Jesus gives to us. The clearing out of extraneous things from our lives which Lent offers means that we are better prepared to take in the world-changing and life-changing reality of the Easter events: Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. We need to name the reality of moral and physical harm in any situation of world conflict. Even as we do this, we also should recognise that the same seeds of violence or cruelty lurk within each of us, and more earnestly receive the transformation of life that Christ offers us. Easter calls us to have hope in all that Christ has done, especially in the situations where human kindness seems to have taken a second place to cruelty. Let the Easter light of resurrection shine brightly in your soul, and may your mind be filled with that world-changing hope that Jesus brings. After all, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5).