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An Easter Message by Bishop of Gibraltar Carmel Zammit

Bishop Carmel Zammit

Bishop of Gibraltar, Carmel Zammit’s Easter Message 2020

“Alleluia, the Lord is Risen.

This is the Christian proclamation that resounds throughout churches around the world that profess the Christian faith on Easter Sunday.

Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead. His followers saw him executed and being crucified, being laid in the tomb, and then they met him unexpectedly as one who has risen from the dead.

The resurrection is always and everywhere around us.

Easter is right at the heart of our life. When we look at life with Easter eyes, then we experience that forgiveness comes beyond grievance, that peace comes beyond conflict, that joy comes beyond sorrow, freedom comes beyond all different kinds of imprisonment, and that love triumphs over fear. In such instances we have the resurrection. Once again, the stone is rolled away, and Jesus rises from the dead and we rise with him.

We are at present living in an unprecedented situation, due to which the restrictions which have been presented to us by the Health Authorities for our own safety makes it impossible that we celebrate the Pascal Triduum together inside our churches.

However, we can still celebrate Holy Week as a Church by joining together through the livestreaming of the special ceremonies that are celebrated during these days. Though we are asked to keep at home and to keep social distancing, still we can join together in prayer and get close to God.

The highlight of all the celebrations during Holy Week happens on Saturday night, when we celebrate the Easter Vigil, which leads to the ringing of the bells after a week of silence and the joyful acclamation that Christ is Risen, that He conquered death.

The Easter Joy should still be with us, because of the victory that Christ achieved over death. This victory is our assurance that we also are called to experience life after death, because Christ overcame death and he shares with us this victory.

We are all suffering in different ways the ramifications in society due to Covid-19, but this pandemic should not destroy the joy of the Easter Message. Easter in a way is an assurance that after this period of social distancing and lack of community sharing, this period of suffering and loss, will be conquered.

We will, with the help of God, experience a kind of resurrection when we are ready to go back to a normal way of life. It is possible that the kind of life we may be leading after this extraordinary situation will be quite different from the kind of life we have experienced before all this happened.

Yet we are confident that as a community we will pull together to help where help is needed and to accept help when this is required. Those who have will be able to share with those who have not. This may offer us a lesson in what it means in practice to love others as we would want them to love us.

After this pandemic, there will be a better understanding of what the Resurrection stands for. Any transformation that brings us new life from some kind of death is a resurrection.

Easter brings to life the basics of our Christian beliefs. The Son of God became one of us and was born in order to save us by carrying our sins himself and by paying for them himself. This is what we mean by redemption. Jesus is the New Adam. Through Adam, sin and death entered into the world, and through the New Adam, Jesus, death was conquered, and grace overcame sin.

Let us pray during Holy Week for those who are the real heroes in this saga, those in authority who are leading us and protecting us from an unseen enemy. We pray for those who are not usually on the front pages of news, but who are risking their own lives in caring for those who become ill: doctors, nurses, medical personnel, carers and cleaners, volunteers and all those working in essential services who are doing their utmost to protect us and to help us when experiencing difficulties.

I encourage you to follow, if you can, the special ceremonies of the Church during this Holy Week through the television and livestreaming broadcasts. Thus, we join together virtually, but in spirit, in celebrating the Paschal Mystery. During our ceremonies you can all benefit from a perfect act of contrition during the penitential rite during the ceremonies and also an Act of Spiritual Communion at the moment of Communion, which in these circumstances is recommended and spiritually effective in granting to us the grace of this sacrament.

The Paschal Mystery is the basis of our faith, and this faith nourishes our hope. However much we face and witness suffering around us, we continue to believe that the presence of Christ among us will never be interrupted. He is our help and whilst we are prepared to embrace the Cross, we also remember that the Cross leads to life and to a new beginning.

Have a wonderful and blessed Easter celebration.”

Bishop of Gibraltar, Carmel Zammit’s Easter Message 2020

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