Our reception of ashes on Ash Wednesday was a response to a call to conversion. Before God we acknowledged that there were corners of our heart that needed healing, pockets of resistance to God’s grace in our lives. The Word of God announced that Lent was a unique season of God’s grace. Lenten penance, prayers and almsgiving were our response; we were part of a worldwide retreat or mission. Gospel passages, like that of the Samaritan Woman, revealed that God can lead us step by step to new life. It was with that hope we set out.
This Lent was to be like none other in our life experience. The fear of the virus Covid-19 has demanded a generous spirit from all in society; social distancing and staying at home were painful but necessary. We move into Holy Week hoping and praying for a change in daily news. As the Easter Triduum approaches, our prayer is one of gratitude for healthcare workers, and all who support and care for the vulnerable and aged. We pray for the dead and the bereaved and we ask God to care for us all.
The Easter Triduum celebrates and rejoices in the depth of God’s love for humankind. This love is expressed in the gift of his Son who gave his life for us. On Holy Thursday we are grateful for the wonderful gifts of Priesthood and Eucharist. The Cross is at the centre on Good Friday when we acknowledge the Cross of Christ as the source of all blessings and graces. The Paschal Candle on Saturday night invites us to walk in the light of Christ and be his voice and presence in the world. The Exultet – the song of Easter joy – calls on us to rejoice because God is ever faithful to his people.
This year, I think Holy Saturday best captures the mood and prayer of people at this time. An ancient homily found in the Office of Readings asks: “What is happening? On this day there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence and stillness, a great silence because our King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still because God slept in the flesh.” We wait and pray like Mary and the women at the grave, never losing hope in God’s love. The Gospel reading at the Easter Vigil this year is from Matthew. Just like in his account of the Passion last Sunday, Matthew vividly places before us the power of God’s actions, of great earthquakes accompanying seismic moments in time. And through it all, the women are told not to be afraid; to seek the Risen Christ, the One they are looking for.
This Easter we are being challenged in many ways. But among the challenges there is one that as people of faith, people of hope and people of love, we cannot ignore. It is the challenge to find Christ in all that we do, in all the circumstances of life’s journey. Yes, Christ, Crucified and Risen, is with us.
Like the women on that first Easter morning, may we all in our time be ‘filled with awe and great joy’ (Mt 28:8) as we seek to bring the love and mercy of Christ to others, especially to those who most need it. Let us not be afraid to do so.
Christ my hope, has risen: he goes before you into Galilee
That Christ is truly risen from the dead we know.
Victorious king, thy mercy show.
– (Sequence of Easter Sunday)
My prayer this Easter is that you will hold on to that hope as we celebrate the great deeds of God.
Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church, pray for us.
Bishop of Clogher
 Second Reading, Office of Readings, Holy Saturday.