EASTER 2016 | Recognising the Risen Christ
To all the Brothers and Co-workers, Members of the Hospitaller Family of Saint John of God
Easter is the most important event of the year, in which we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, his triumph over sin, suffering and death, throwing open the gates of life and hope to all humanity. This is why it is the great feast of light which enlightens all things, of water which quenches all thirst, of joy and happiness without end, the Feast of the Alleluia! I wish all the members of the Hospitaller Family of Saint John of God a very Happy Easter.
Following one of the Easter accounts par excellence (Lk 24,13-35), I wish to invite you, especially this Easter, to experience the presence of the Risen Christ and to know how to recognise him among us. When they recognised him, even though it was difficult for them, their lives were completely changed. ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ … That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together… and told them what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
This year I would like to invite the whole of our Family to Recognise the Risen Christ. To feel his presence close to us and have the same experience of fullness that the disciples on the road to Emmaus had. The Resurrection of our Lord is not primarily an emotional, and therefore a transient, experience, but is a real profound experience which marks out the life of human beings and of the world. The Risen Christ walks among us and with us. Let us make bold to recognise him and to follow him in our lives, to live as risen men and women, like Him.
There are many footprints revealing his presence among us, as we saw in the case of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and so we must be careful to ensure that we recognise him. This year we are celebrating the Jubilee of Mercy. Acts of mercy and hospitality are the most perfect signs of the presence of the Risen Lord. Signs of love, mercy and hospitality embody the Risen Lord and make us feel his presence close to us. Every act of mercy and hospitality causes hope to be reborn for the human being and for the world, and teaches us that there are good reasons for continuing to believe and hope in life, goodness, brotherhood, in the human being and in God, who is capable of making all things new, of raising and giving life even to those who apparently seem to have perished.
This is the mission of our Saint John of God Family: to recognise the Risen Lord in our needy and suffering brothers and sisters, and to practise mercy towards them, and show them hospitality. Only a few days ago at the Latin America Regional Conference, we had the joy of visiting, albeit all-too briefly, the Order’s St John Grande Hostel in Guadalajara (Mexico). I had seen it several times earlier but this time I was impressed by the hospitality practised by the Co-workers, Volunteers and Brothers. That hospitality certainly reflects the presence of the Risen Christ, pouring out love and mercy towards these poor and needy people, with real faces and real problems, who are so grateful for the welcome and care they are given. There are so many examples we could mention. Let us be bold to discover and live Easter this year with the joy of those who recognise that the Lord remains alive among us through the reflections of his mercy and hospitality, which He leaves for us to see every day.
On behalf of the General Government and all the Brothers and Co-workers of the General Curia I wish you all A VERY HAPPY AND BLESSED EASTER!